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Beijing Police To Launch Animated Web Patrols 228

Reader geoffrobinson notes an AP story on a new initiative by the police in Beijing to put a visible police presence on the screens of Chinese citizens. Starting Sept. 1, little animated cop figures will wander across the displays of users of a baker's dozen of Chinese Web portals. The program is set to expand by year's end to all sites "registered with Beijing servers," according to the report. The point of the anime-like figures seems to be to remind citizens that their Web usage is being monitored, not to actually implement any further monitoring themselves.
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Beijing Police To Launch Animated Web Patrols

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  • by The_Fire_Horse (552422) <> on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @10:53PM (#20393647) Homepage Journal
    many people have no idea about security and monitoring.

    Even in the US the average Joe wouldnt know if it was an animated charactor, or a real person spying on them through their webcam.

    Pretty lame though...
  • To be redundant (Score:0, Insightful)

    by ccs.gott (1144593) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @10:59PM (#20393703)
    I am ashamed that a Government would shame itself by acting like the USA.
  • by garcia (6573) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @11:02PM (#20393737)
    I am sure the NeoCons are drooling at a visual reminder "We are watching your every mouse click".
    They will have the "Terror level" displayed on a flag carried by a little goose-stepping Uncle Sam.

    They're doing enough of that in the media. They'd rather let you pretend you are supporting the "land of the free" with some sense of false freedom feeling.

    Honestly, at least the Chinese know they're being watched at every step and don't have a government watching them closely but pretending they don't.
  • by JonTurner (178845) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @11:09PM (#20393783) Journal
    >>every so often a little head would appear in the top corner that was to signify that a "supervisor" was watching...
    Fascinating study! I guess the Panopticon would cause people to just freak out. Maybe the pervasive monitoring in some societies (UK, Hong Kong) is both a symptom AND a cause of the very crime it's meant to monitor.

    >>What if a majority of students/researchers in China are working on their Internet (yes, their) and the "virtua-cop" fucks up their work?
    The short answer is: the officials don't care. Truly. Government is about control, not service, and it's certainly not measured by the results it gives. That's a very "western" viewpoint. And this government has a particularly nasty (and long) history of killing its own folks.
  • How annoying (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Kris_J (10111) * on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @11:12PM (#20393815) Homepage Journal
    I've voluntarily installed screenmate software [] before and typically it doesn't last past the day. I can't imagine there won't be plenty of programs written to turn them off.
  • by Nymz (905908) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @11:22PM (#20393865) Journal

    If you google Tiananmen does a little animated tank come out and crush your cursor?
    I laughed at first too, because the whole idea seems pointless and annoying, as if we don't have enough unwanted pop-ups and such. But then I realize I'm free, so I can only imagine how creepy, and how sad it is to be reminded every half hour that you are so subjugated.
  • by Spikeles (972972) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @11:36PM (#20393955)
    The biggest trick the government ever pulled was convincing the citizen that he was free
  • by pclminion (145572) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @11:49PM (#20394047)

    Maybe you should consider that a country can be fucked up even if it isn't the worst on Earth. Sure, we might be doing better than China based on some criteria, but that doesn't mean there aren't quite a few things seriously wrong. "If you don't like it, leave." No thanks. If I don't like it I'll do what I can to fix it. Pointing out what's wrong is the first step.

  • by non (130182) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @12:02AM (#20394121) Homepage Journal
    i don't know where to begin, either you're a total idiot, or just another ditto-head, and frankly i can't tell the difference anymore. while your rights and liberties are being slowly^H^H^Hrapidly eroded, you sit back and say, "if you don't like it, leave." perhaps you'd care to comment on adequate controls in government as they apply to electronic communications by the executive branch staff? or even more so, on the number of executive orders made by the current administration?

    foreigners, nationals of a country widely considered to be the most corrupt in the first world, have said to me, " its not that we're any more corrupt than you are, its just that you're professionals at it."

    trust me, when it comes to electronic communications, you are every bit as monitored here as in china. why don't you google 'network packet monitor index'. the vendors returned by such a search will be those that contracted to the intelligence agencies years ago; the chinese use equipment cloned from such specifications.

    and while you're on the subject of forced abortions, why don't you think about the possibly of forced pregnancy.
  • by Mr. Roadkill (731328) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @12:22AM (#20394261)
    Look, we all know that the Chinese government is going to be monitoring as much as it can. They're control freaks. I, for one, welcome any measures they take to remind the people that they're being watched - maybe such reminders will help the people of china think about what kind of society they live in and what kind of society they would like to live in, and encourage them to take action to try to shape their future.
  • Re:World War 3 (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @12:49AM (#20394457)
    I'd rather be dead, or live in the stone age, than live under the government in 1984. Are these not the principles by which America was founded?
  • by fractoid (1076465) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @01:12AM (#20394625) Homepage

    The biggest trick the government ever pulled was convincing the citizen that he was free
    Go outside and yell "The government sucks!" three times, then post conspiracy theory crap everywhere. Did they suppress you? No?
  • by ari_j (90255) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @02:07AM (#20394941)
    Without reading the whole thread, I do know that the next step is formulating a coherent statement of what is wrong and why it is, in fact, wrong. The third step is proposing a solution that will not introduce more problems than it solves. The fourth is convincing enough of the right people that your solution has sufficient merit to be implemented.

    One problem that the USA does not have that China does is that the above steps are impossible for a Chinese subject (I hesitate to use the word citizen) to complete. You normally don't make it past the first step before the government comes to explain why there isn't actually a problem to be solved.
  • by Eivind (15695) <> on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @02:24AM (#20395013) Homepage
    You're not free. You are *more* politically free than the average person in China, but freedom ain't an "on/off" kind of thing, it's a "more/less" kind of thing.

    The sad thing is though, that while the average chinese has become steadily more and more free lately, the trend in USA has been the other way, you guys are significantly less *free* now than you where a decade or two ago.

    You require government-permission if you want to take pictures of a group of more than 2 people for over 20 minutes in Central Park, using a tripod. You are not allowed to talk about certain kinds of knowledge, like for example even that de-CSS exist. Your government maintains it can legitimately keep people imprisoned indefinitely while giving same neither the rigths of a POV nor the rigths of a criminal. You cannot bring something as trivial as a can of coke with you on a plane. You have to walk trough metal-detectors and accept answering questioning to be allowed to enter public buildings. You're not allowed to take apart objects that you own to figure out how they work. (not generally anyway) and if you *do* figure out how they work, sharing that knowledge with others may be a crime. You've been falling steadily on "freedom-of-press" rankings for the last decade, you used to be near the top, these days you're under average for a western democracy. "Free speech zones" (no comment needed)

    USA is still in pretty good shape, certainly miles ahead of countries like china. But you're on the wrong track. You need to wake up.
  • by ultranova (717540) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @03:03AM (#20395249)

    But then I realize I'm free, so I can only imagine how creepy, and how sad it is to be reminded every half hour that you are so subjugated.

    You need not worry; by all available evidence, the Chinese government is doing its level best to keep its citizens from being reminded of the Tiananmen massacre.

    As for you, you won't be free until the last libertarian is strangled with the entrails of the last fascist. As long as we keep on letting ideology of any kind to guide our political or economic decisions, the end result will always be the same: the real world won't conform to the theory, so it gets hammered there by force, since the other choice is admitting that the theory was wrong.

  • by ultranova (717540) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @03:31AM (#20395375)

    Last time I checked, China has about 130 nuclear warheads, US has 9 960, and Russia has 16 000.

    Guess who is going to be obliterated first when the WW3 begins.

    Whoever the guy with the fastest missiles hates most ?

    Please understand that having 9960 nuclear warheads in no way stops 130 enemy warheads from reaching you. While 130 nuclear warheads is not sufficient to carpet bomb a country the size of the USA, it is quite sufficient to take out large cities, industry, food production and central administration. The end result is likely massive death toll from starvation and plague, and collapse of the USA as a nation, or at the very least its removal from its world power status.

    So no, no one dares attack China.

  • Re:So (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SQL Error (16383) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @04:34AM (#20395595)

    Americans like the idea of revolution, but when it happens for real, good people die.
    Revolutionary's Handbook Tip #1: When you throw out the bad old system, try not to replace it with something worse.
  • by (321932) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @05:29AM (#20395821) Homepage Journal
    If I end up in prison after Yahoo 'complies' with my government, then I'll reconsider my perception of freedom.

    Some people believe that freedom is the ability to do whatever you want so long as you don't hurt anyone else. Given that definition, the US is far from a free country.

    As an example, explain how drinking alcohol is considered fine and smoking weed can land you in jail. (despite stacks of research proving that pot has less negative effects than alcohol does)

    Not to mention Guantanamo. Those aren't citizens, so they don't count.
  • Re:Bad Link (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DDLKermit007 (911046) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @05:41AM (#20395879)
    It's not that it's painful as much as it's a giant black mark on Chinese history. The Chinese usually hate discussing ANYTHING that they/the government lost face on. An act that causes a loss of face (even if for a good reason) is something people disappear over in China.
  • by Eivind (15695) <> on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @06:19AM (#20396073) Homepage
    The thing about "emergency" laws though, is that they're not *actually* repelled even nearly as often as you would like them to be. There are strong forces that *want* such laws, permanently, and whatever emergency pops up is a welcome excuse to push them trough rapidly. If the laws are still there 20 years later, who will even remember?

    If the "emergency" part was seriously meant, the laws would come with an automatic expiry-date. "This law expires automatically in 3 years, unless extended by congress", but none of them tend to do that. Which makes whomever suggests canceling them look like the bad guy. Let's face it, it doesn't make much political capital to be the guy making the suggestion to remove so-called "anti-terror" laws, for example.

    A practical example ? TWA 800 broke up and exploded shortly after take-off headed for Paris from Kennedy airport. FBI argued for, and got, new wiretap-powers, meant to assist them in investigating the supposed terrorist-attack. This was in 1996. The end report from the FBI concluded that the explosion was the result of a mechanical error in the plane, and that there is no indication any criminal activity was involved. The laws ? Still in effect til this very day.

    Sure. *some* is reversed. But really, for every one step in the direction of freedom in american law the last decade or two, there's been atleast 5 steps in the oposite direction. So the net result is degradation.
  • by asuffield (111848) <> on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @08:19AM (#20396669)

    Go outside and yell "The government sucks!" three times, then post conspiracy theory crap everywhere. Did they suppress you? No?

    In China? No, you just disappear. Maybe the government did it. Maybe the mafia did it because you owed them money. Maybe you ran away with a girl. Maybe you're escaping after committing a crime. That's why they do it that way - people go missing all the time, and nobody can be sure which ones were government work. It makes it very easy for people to believe that the government isn't actually doing anything wrong, and that's part of how they convince the citizen that he's free.

    Realistically though, the Chinese government does not tend to do anything about the kind of behaviour you describe. They don't actually care what you do - they just pay attention to the effect you have. Anybody who creates an effect that they don't like tends to disappear. Ineffectual people are left alone.
  • Re:Bad Link (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Jarik_Tentsu (1065748) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @09:06AM (#20397119)
    We're learning about Chinese revolution from a really good History teacher at school at the moment (she wrote one of the text books for the course and is mentioned by Richard Pipes =P). Now we have only just finished the Great Leap Forward and started the Cultural Revolution, but from what I understand so far...

    The cultural revolution was another one of Mao's 'mad' policies in which he felt his *own* commanders and party officials, intellectual advisors, etc etc were becoming corrupt and to stop this, he called once again for a new revolution. Kinda contradictory to the 100 Flowers campaign (When he was asking intellectuals for criticism).

    Mao may have been an amazing revolutionary, but he failed as a leader...constantly trying to create a new radical revolution without any sort of knowledge on what he was on about. Like his "plant deep, plant close" policy in the GLF which even a child could say would not work...

    I think he just loved revolution - his policy of the Mass Line implemented, with the peasants rising up to kill someone...if you read Chung and Halliday, they'll describe him as someone who got a bloodlust for revolution during his implementation of the Mass Line in Jingxi.

  • by bcharr2 (1046322) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @10:27AM (#20398223)
    Don't you wish that every government and corporation on the planet would adopt this policy, and bluntly remind/inform you when they are monitoring you?

To iterate is human, to recurse, divine. -- Robert Heller