China Using Cartoon Cyber Cops to Warn Internet Users Police are Watching

Mar. 11, 2006

The People’s Republic of China has invented a new and innovative way to make the totalitarian regime internet-user friendly: cartoon cyber cops. China, which has long-been concerned with the threat posed by online dissidents, has been notorious for its hard-line restrictions on the Internet. However, with “Jingjing” and “Chacha”, the cute cartoon cops, the communist country can now put some friendly faces on the ubiquitous online police force.

Chinese Police successfully introduced the novel idea to use these animated icons to patrol news and discussion websites in the Chinese city of Shenzhen. The very clever names for the animated cops come from the Chinese characters jing and cha, which means “police”. The Internet police icons have been responsible for a 60% decline in the filtering of Internet postings for content challenging the political order.

"The main function of Jingjing and Chacha is to intimidate, not to answer questions," a security official told Beijing Youth Daily.

“Now internet users know the police are watching them,” said Chen Minli, director of the Shenzhen City Public Security Bureau’s Internet Surveillance Center said in an interview with the Financial Times. She called the cartoons “a historic breakthrough,” putting the presence of the online police at the forefront in people’s minds. Chen attributes the idea of the cutesy communist cops to her teenage daughter’s mind. The idea puts a more personable face to the sophisticated government apparatus that blocks and filters thousands of websites in China.

Jingjing and Chacha move along with the user as he scrolls through local discussion websites. The process is interactive. Internet users can now easily denounce Internet crimes, or re-educate themselves about online conduct by just clicking on the icon. Jingjing and Chacha will also communicate with Internet users through the QQ instant messaging system, as virtual users to deter them from internet crime, or just to remind them in a friendly fashion that the regime’s “Big Brother” is watching them.

Chinese users can find out more about Jingjing and Chacha from their websites. There they also can listen to the music available, including the hit number, “Song of the People’s Police.”

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