New regulations that require bars, restaurants, hotels and bookstores to install costly web monitoring software are prompting many businesses to cut Internet access and sending a chill through the capital’s game-playing, web-grazing literati who have come to expect free Wi-Fi with their lattes and tea.
The software, which costs businesses about $3,100, provides security officials the identities of those logging on to the wireless service of a restaurant, cafe or school and monitors their web activity. Those who ignore the regulation and provide unfettered access face a $2,300 fine and the possible revocation of their business license.
It is unclear whether the new measures will be strictly enforced or applied beyond central Beijing where they are already in effect. But they suggest that security officials, unnerved by turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa partly enabled by the Internet, are undaunted in their efforts to increase controls.