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article imageChina Targets Online Gamers and Net Cafes in Latest Crime Sweep

By David Silverberg     Feb 12, 2008 in Internet
Do online games cause juvenile crime? China believes they do, which is why its police are cracking down on illegal websites, computer markets and Internet cafes in an effort to quash youth crime.
Digital Journal — China is continuing its repression of all things fun and free with a recent crackdown on Internet cafes and websites for youth. Dubbed “Operation for Tomorrow,” the Chinese initiative seeks to target websites offering downloadable games for unregistered users.
The focus is on Internet cafes because they are blamed for breeding truancy and juvenile crime. Authorities say these cafes allow crime to thrive as a way to earn money to play online games. Unlicensed cafes, especially those that admit patrons under 18, will be closed down. Legal cafes will endure strict supervision.
Enforcers will carry out duties under guidelines adopted last year by 14 government departments, which include the Culture Ministry, State Administration for Industry and Commerce, and the Public Security Ministry.
This crackdown is another example of China’s Big Brother-friendly authoritative state, where constant supervision replaces online freedom. It’s almost laughable to portray gamers as delinquents, especially when the causal link is solely skipping out on school classes.
Blaming games for crime will only make China look even more repressive than it already is, which doesn’t bode well for public perception. While its high-tech sector and gaming industry is turning heads, its short-sighted view of online freedom is reversing any progress it may have made in the digital arena. Now that Operation for Tomorrow is trying to rein in innocent gamers, China will have to do a lot to save face amidst this ill-advised initiative.
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