Beijing Polices the Internet with Cartoon Officers

These cartoon cops are Beijing's latest war on the worldwide web. The animated figures will either walk, drive or cycle across the screen of internet users, warning them not to visit illegal sites.

From September 1, the warnings will appear every 30 minutes on 13 of China's top portals. The virtual cops are expected to be rolled out to all websites registered with Beijing servers, according to the Beijing Public Security Ministry.

Whether this means that the 137 million Chinese who surf the web will be further monitored than they already are is, however, unclear. Clicking on the cops will direct users to the Public Security website. "We will continue to promote new images of the virtual police and update our internet security tips in an effort to make the image of the virtual police more user friendly and more in tune with how web surfers use the internet," it said.

The Chinese Communist Party regards the internet as the devil incarnate and is constantly blocking its people's access to foreign sites, and anything that doesn't float their political or moral boats is banned. Nudity, profanity, illegal gambling, and pirated music, books and film are still, however, available on Chinese internet servers. [Yahoo!]