To inform entertain and excite my kids, Jamie, Patrick, Aaron & Sarah Middleburgh, our family and friends.

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Network Police

A humerous Singaporean (an oxymron if ever) has decided that I should be responsible for reviewing some of my China colleagues' surfing habits. I now recieve weekly activity logs even though I don't read Chinese and would not know if the sites visited are appropriate or not. Periodically I do due diligence and check that no one is excessivley surfing on company time,and remind the troops that big brother (as well as the "Network Police") is watching.

Of course Chinese surfers fully understand that their online activity is monitored, even when they use the widely known tools that breach the "Wall", and whilst the west critizises "local" Cybercops and the "Great Firewall", some perspective is required.

The "Wall" may filter overseas content to suppress "adverse" news but that says more about the insecuity of the authorities than any thing else - and frankly it's a pain in arse when you try do english language searches on overseas search engines only to find they are blocked - with the exception of yahoo - I wonder why ??)I personally abhor censorship because it can be used to hide corruption, mismanagement, incompetance and general malfiesience on the part of officials, on the other hand it can also be righteously used to block access to other undesirable content. Doesn't France and Germany block Nazi content and hasn't India the most populous democracy only the other weeksnuffed out blogs to suppress hindu extremist sites.

whilst one may debate whether certain online activities should be deemed crimal or antisocial, authorities all round the world seek to control sites. Within the "wall" sites must be licensed etc and recently Shenzhen has piloted an new feature on Blogs and bulletin boards.

To quote the "Taipei Times" - "Internet users in Shenzhen now have a constant reminder that Big Brother is watching them as online cartoons of police officers float on their screens to warn them not to access banned sites or discuss sensitive topics, state media said yesterday. The Shenzhen Public Security Bureau's Internet Surveillance Division this month launched the cartoons of a male and female police officer, which are designed to appear whenever someone logs onto a Web site or enters a chat room, the China Daily newspaper said."

This scheme has now been rolled out to 8+ other municipalities. Allegedly these schemes are intended to be in your face and "intimidatory"(Other more balanced articles on this subject may be found here on the site. CDT is run by the Berkeley China Internet Project (BCIP) out of the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley.)

Interestingly condemnations focuses on the 'intimidation" rather than the "ratting out" aspect. The latter is taken as a given.Even before the Cultural Revolution, citizens were encouraged to inform, and in the west we only have to look at Vichy collaborators, Norwegian Quislings, N.Ireland Touts and the Stasifor comparison. That is not to say there aren't legitimate situations when informing is appropriate

Where am I going with this you ask ?? It seems to me that that the most important aspect of this roll out has been overlooked (unless of course this is a "State Secret"). There is a tremendous opportunity to develope a national Cybercop "brand", The carton characters ChaCha and JiangJiang have the potential to be made into international stars.

Consider the franchising and movie opportunities. Will Hollywood buy the movie rights as they did for "Internal Affairs"??. Is the rumour that Pixar is already in negotiations true ?? Has Laura Croft already been pink slipped ??

These are the profound questions which demand .....ABSOLUTELY DEMAND.... to be answered. (and anyway who cares about revaluation of the Remembi !!)

No doubt the SARFT is in urgent discussions with the Public Security Bureau about the diverse images that the municipalities are putting out. Under other circumstances such creativity and imagination would be a welcome sign that the police was not a monolithic force, but in this case the conflicting messages they are sending is damaging the "product".

For instance is Cha Cha really the boring old frump as depicted in some of the images or is she an attractive, intelligent, sporty young officer who does credit to both state and force??

Is JiangJiang a new age man unashamed of showing his sensitive feminine side or is he an experienced "hard man" seasoned in the riot front line ready to crack heads with the best of them??

And is there any romantic connection between them ?? Will we hear the pitter patter of little cadet bootties?? What have they got in their eyes?? Will they be China's official entry to the Oscars in 2008 ?? And will I get an invite to the policemans new year party??

THE WORLD WANTS CLARITY!! (refresh page if the scroller below does not appear!!!) 4

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