China begins month-long campaign to crackdown on mobile instant messaging services
DHARAMSALA, May 30: The Chinese government has started a month-long campaign to crackdown on “illegal” and “harmful” information circulating through instant messaging services such as WeChat.
“While such services have become popular online communication channels, some people have used them to distribute illegal and harmful information, seriously undermining public interests and order in cyberspace,” the official Xinhua News Agency cited a statement by the State Internet Information Office (SIIO) on Tuesday as saying.
According to the statement, the campaign will target public accounts on instant messaging services, which can spread information on a large scale and mobilize followers.
The campaign intends to crack down on those spreading rumours and information relating to violence, terrorism and pornography, as well as those using instant messaging for fraud.
In total, mobile instant messaging services in China have over 800 million users and We Chat, the most popular among them has 355 million monthly active users, most of which are in China.
Calling it a “fight against infiltration from hostile forces at home and abroad” the statement said the SIIO, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and Ministry of Public Security are in charge of the campaign and will hold service providers responsible if they do not fulfill their duty.
The authorities also encouraged the public to provide tip-offs through emails, phone calls or the website net.china.com.cn.
Prior to the announcement of the latest campaign, China has arrested several Tibetans for sharing information through WeChat application.
Five Tibetans including two monks of Drilda monastery in Sog County in the traditional Tibetan province of Kham were arrested by Chinese authorities on March 6 for allegedly sharing pictures and messages on WeChat.