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Animated Cops to Patrol Web in China

The Chinese government announced today that it would use animated beat cops to patrol 13 of China's top Web portals in an effort to steer users away from illegal content, reports THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. Starting Sept. 1, 2007, the cartoon cops will walk, bike and drive across Web surfers' screens every half hour, warning them to stay clear of material "the Communist Party finds politically or morally threatening." By the end of the year, the animated warning will appear on all websites registered with Beijing servers.

Designed by Web firm Sohu, the male and female cartoon characters are meant to startle users and remind them that the government is monitoring Web usage. Additionally, if surfers need police assistance, they can click on the characters, which link to the police authority's website.

In a statement, the Beijing Public Security Ministry said, "We will continue to promote new images of the virtual police and update our Internet security tips in an effort to make the image of the virtual police more user-friendly and more in tune with how Web surfers use the Internet."

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