Hey sexy texters, feel free to whip out your phones and tell your respective others how much you like bedtime moves. What? Worried that it’ll somehow get your SMS service turned off by the folks at China Mobile and the Public Security Bureau? Thankfully, it turns out that news of those proposed regulations against sexting aren’t quite true… at least for now.
Over the weekend, a short article on China Daily (apparently a translation of one from Nanfang Daily) declared:
China Mobile, the country’s largest cell-phone operator, is cooperating with the country’s public security administrations to crack down on unlawful texting activities, including smishing, racketeering and sending lewd content…
Sending just one unlawful text message will result in suspension of the texting service. To get it back, the person would have to submit a written promise to the public security authority not to send unlawful messages again, said the report.
Looks like it wasn’t just us that did a double take at news of this new regulation, which seemed not only to be too severe a breach of privacy even for China, but also extremely hard (and expensive) to police. Several local news organizations raced to China Mobile’s offices to see what they had to say about the matter. And that, it seems, was the first time China Mobile had heard of their cooperative “yellow text” erasing campaign with the government.
The Xinmin text of China Mobile’s denial is about as short as the China Daily article on the texts, so we’ve translated it below:
According to recent media reports, in order to cooperate with nine ministries in their campaign to deeply renovate the internet and mobile media by wiping out pornography and vulgar messages, China Mobile has launched the following initiative: Numbers that are associated with sending “yellow texts” will be blocked. On January 18th, Shanghai Mobile (note: the Shanghai branch of China Mobile) denied this claim, saying that it was inaccurate.
The reports claimed, China Mobile had met with the Public Security Bureau to block illegal “porn channels” and come up with several initiatives. Of those, one was that China Mobile would offer a range of pre-filtered keywords in cellphone text messages and issue a “yellow obscenity” standard in accordance with national ministries. If irregularities are found, China Mobile will then suspend the SMS functions of the phone. If the user objects, then the PSB will look into the content of the message for verification. If the PSB finds that the messages are “yellow obscenities,” the user’s phone number will be permanently blocked; if found to be non-obscene, users can receive a certificate to regain SMS functionality. The news reports caused widespread concern. Xinmin went to China Mobile today to ask them about this, but they categorically denied the authenticity of the news.
Well phew, dodged a bullet there!
It should be noted, this is not the first time we’ve heard threats of Chinese officials creeping into our text message inboxes. In August, Henan allegedly put a jail term on sexting, threatening ten days of jail and a 500RMB fine for three sexy messages. No word on whether that legislation ever came to pass.