From June 1, China’s police in 50 areas will open accounts on social media sites, including Weibo, Wechat, and Baidu BBS, to “patrol the Internet and receive netizens’ reporting,” announced China’s Ministry of Public Security.
These “Internet police” will watch over the Internet 24/7 to get rid of “illegal and harmful information on the Internet, deter and prevent cyber crimes and improper words and deeds online, publish case reports and handle public tip-offs,” according to Xinhua. Not surprised, besides fraud, defamation, gambling, and selling guns and drugs, “picking quarrels and provoking trouble,” which is “a charge often used to lock up dissidents” according to Reuters, is also on the list.
Though the announcement says this action is to “purify the Internet” and “create a harmonious, cultured, clear, and bright Internet,” reported by Quartz and Reuters, most netizens treat it as the government’s new strategy to tighten controls on Internet censorship. China is known to block such popular Western websites as Facebook and YouTube, and to have monitored the Internet in the background, censoring certain contents and discussions, and even arresting those who violate its Internet censorship rule, according to Quartz.
“The Internet police are coming out from behind the curtains, beginning regular open inspection and law enforcement efforts… working hard to increase a joint feeling of public safety for the online community, and satisfy the public,” said China’s public security ministry.
Many Chinese netizens get upset about the coming of these “Internet police,” according to Passion Times. Some netizens questioned that without establishing laws on citizen speech, how can these cyber police administer people’s online talk? Another netizen joked that it’s already been “local area network” in China, and now this new policy is urging netizens to go back to newspapers and books. There were even netizens pointing out this action is to control people’s minds and words, and is the same as what North Korea is doing.