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China cracks down on Internet Vigilantes

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Friday, 31 January 2014 20:54 Written by DFM Team

A Chinese official in charge of Internet Surveillance, last month, gave notice that the 'mobs' of internet users who make the lives of others a misery will, under no circumstances, be tolerated.

China often see's cases of what most of the world would consider cyber bullying, but in this case has been coined 'Internet Vigilantism'. It happens on such a large scale in the nation, that the mobs have been nicknamed, "the human flesh search engine".

One such case saw a Taxi driver singled out after a driver had spat at an elderly homless person and witnesses had noted down the first few digits of the offenders license plate. After the case was broadcast over a local radio station, thousands gathered online to track the offender down.

After a partial match revealed Yin Feng, a part time taxi driver, his mobile phone number was posted online and he began to receive a torrent of angry and threatening phone calls and messages.

Mr Feng is not the only victim of the phenomenon, and a nurse who starred in an anonymous video where her high heel was used to crush a kittens skull, was also targetted after her identity was revealed. As a result, the woman was suspended from her job.

The Chinese government is clearly taking notice of such events, after Liu Zhengrong, a top official in charge of China's internet surveillance, said that the government believed the 'human felsh search engine' to be both "illegal and immoral". His words were echoed throughout the nations major media outlets and this hints that such actions will not be tolerated by the courts.

However, it has been noticed that, in some small ways, the human flesh search engine is forcing officials in the Communist nation to change their behaviour. One scholar explains that citizens can train their own government by using the interent to 'police the party'.

As much as the human flesh search engine is criticised, the nation will find it difficult to reign in the srutiny of others. The internet itself in very difficult to control, even in a nation where censors regularly remove data and information that is deemed unacceptable.

 
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