By Mure Dickie in Beijing
June 20, 2005
Chinese hackers have defaced the website of a police-run security
company that is leading a new effort to strengthen the Communist
government's control over the internet.
The action by unknown hackers against the website of the Beijing
General Security Service Co comes amid its drive to recruit a corps of
4,000 "internet security guards" to monitor the online activities of
people in the Chinese capital.
"A security company that cannot even protect its own website can
hardly talk about security," the hackers wrote in a notice that
appeared on the site's news section last week.
The action against Beijing General Security underlines the challenges
Chinese officials face in their campaign to tame the internet.
However, the company's continuing drive to recruit online overseers
underlines Beijing's determination to prevent the internet from posing
any challenge to the Communist party's monopoly on political power.
"Agents of hostile forces at home and abroad are using the internet to
engage in propaganda, infiltration, incitement and sabotage," an
official of Beijing General Security said. "Strengthening management
of the internet is of special significance for the strengthening of
the party's ability to govern."
The guards whom Beijing General Security is recruiting will be
assigned to around 3,000 "internet access work-units", including
telecommunications operators and internet service providers as well as
800 internet caf=E9s around the capital. Activities such as internet
fraud, promoting the banned Falun Gong sect or online pornography are
to be stopped and reported to police.
China already uses a range of methods including automated scanning to
crack down on online activity. Local websites are regularly shut down,
thousands of overseas sites are blocked and internet dissidents are
routinely harassed or jailed.
International companies that operate internet businesses are expected
to support such efforts and some have proved willing to do so.
Microsoft's new Chinese joint-venture internet portal, for example,
has been banned from using a range of potentially politically
sensitive words including "democracy" and "freedom" to label personal
websites set up using its free online blog service, MSN Spaces.
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