China’s secret internet police target critics with web of propaganda

By Jonathan Watts in the Guardian (free reg. required):

China’s communist authorities have intensified their campaign against the party’s biggest potential enemy – the internet – with the recruitment of a growing army of secret web commentators, sophisticated new monitoring software and a warning that all bloggers and bulletin board operators must register with the government or be closed down and fined.

The escalation of the government’s effort to neutralise critical online opinion comes after a series of large anti-Japanese, anti-pollution and anti-corruption protests, many of which were organised or publicised using instant messaging services, chatrooms and text messages.