Beijing seeking to hire internet censors

Source June 17 2009 FT

The city of Beijing is planning to hire thousands of internet censors in a fresh sign of the authorities’ attempts to tighten their grip on cyberspace.

The city will seek to employ at least 10,000 “internet volunteers” before the end of this year to monitor “harmful” websites and content, said an official at the municipal authority’s information office.

Chinese local governments and Communist party branches often pay web commentators to influence online opinion. But it is unusual for officials to admit the practice and the big recruitment drive gives a rare view of the resources China uses to try to control the internet.

The move comes amid an outcry over the national government’s attempt to ensure that every new personal computer sold in China is equipped with web filtering software. The ministry of industry and information technology notified computer makers last month that they would be required from July 1 to include Green Dam/Youth Escort – a programme developed under commission by the government – with every new PC.

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