India’s strident moral police now have competition from communist China.
Officials across China, the world’s number three economy, are busy making rules to censor and police SMS. Communist Party officials in the Shenze county near Beijing held over 480 meetings since July, to discuss how to stop obscene mobile messaging.
It’s unclear what is an officially obscene SMS and how SMS will be monitored in a nation of over 600 million mobile phone users. But Chinese mobile users who send an unwanted obscene SMS in central Henan province will spend five days in jail. Three messages can lead to lock-up for 10 days and a fine equivalent to Rs 3,500, according to new penalties publicised in the Chinese media this week.
Party members in Shenze have been warned against sending ‘inappropriate’ SMS including dirty jokes, porn and gossip about office romances, said State media reports. “Obscene information harms the people’s soul and morality,” said the rule. The reports said the punishment would be ‘unspecified’ and frequent violators would be named in the local media.
This year, Liaoning province ruled that erotic SMS could qualify as sexual harassment. China’s censors are also waging a war on online porn and ordering Google to clean-up links.