China called for a cleanup of mobile porn Web sites on Wednesday, blaming their rise on high-speed mobile data services, deployment of which has otherwise been a point of pride for the country.
China issued 3G (third generation) mobile network licenses to its three mobile carriers early this year, and the number of 3G users in China has slowly climbed since then. This year the country has also closed thousands of Web sites and arrested dozens in a campaign against online pornography that is increasingly shifting focus to mobile Web sites.
"Lawless people have begun using the full commercial deployment of 3G and its faster download speeds for pictures and videos... to spread obscene and pornographic content," Su Jinsheng, an engineer in China's IT ministry, said in a speech, according to a transcript on the ministry Web site. A cleanup is needed to "protect the healthy growth of the next generation and purify the social environment," he said.
China sees its long-delayed rollout of 3G services as a step toward its goal of becoming a global technology power. But owners of mobile porn Web sites have been able to evade authorities through technical tactics such as frequently switching domain names and IP (Internet Protocol) addresses, Su said. Counter-tactics being used by authorities include a blacklist to prevent pornographic Web sites from reappearing online and the design of content-filtering technology to help network operators themselves block obscene content, he said, giving a rare official glimpse into how Chinese regulators control information on the Internet.
Pornography is illegal in China and authorities have long seen it as a scourge on the country's culture. Earlier this year Google had a row with Chinese authorities over pornographic search results that ultimately led to Google.com and other Google services being briefly blocked in the country.