Any right-minded IT professional reading the headline China to 'clean up' the internet could be forgiven for thinking at last that the government of the world's next great superpower has finally got tough on cyber criminals. The truth, sadly, is slightly more predictable.
Yes, the Chinese authorities have announced they are to get tough on sleaze, and get tough on the causes of sleaze, by punishing any web sites they deem to be displaying inappropriate or 'unhealthy' content. They've already published the names of 19 sites which have so far failed to get rid of such material and warned that these could even be shut down in the future.
Now this sort of behaviour would be deemed rather harsh if it wasn't the Chinese government in question, which has a pretty terrible record when it comes to web censorship. But what may really smart for the site owners in question, is the fact that the same government openly backs cyber espionage activities, carried out against its perceived enemies by amateur hacking groups. According to Rick Howard, director of intelligence at iDefense, these groups even wear military-style uniforms.
At present, Chinese firms are not under nearly the same sort of pressure from hackers trying to breach their defences and steal valuable IP and customer details as their western counterparts. But when they do begin to feel the heat, it will be interesting to see whether their government takes more action than trying to remove a few racy images of bikini models from the internet.
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