China wants police to take a leading role in online security

China to place security teams in major Internet firms

China will set up "network security offices" at major Internet companies and websites as it tightens its grip over the domestic Internet.

The plan is aimed at enabling the authorities to move more quickly against illegal online behaviour, the Ministry of Public Security said in a statement, such as online scams, pornography and rumour spreading.

The law will strengthen user privacy protection from hackers and data resellers, but it also increases the government's powers to obtain records on, and block dissemination of, private information deemed illegal or politically sensitive.

"We will set up 'network security offices' inside important website and Internet firms, so that we can catch criminal behaviour online at the earliest possible point," deputy minister Chen Zhimin said, according to the statement.

He previously urged the police to take a leading role in online security and work closely with Internet regulators at a conference in Beijing yesterday.

A draft cyber-security law published last month is expected to consolidate the government's control over data, with significant potential consequences for Internet service providers and multinational firms doing business in the country.

The country's parliament also passed a sweeping national security law last month that tightened government control in politics, culture, the military, the economy, technology and the environment.

The Ministry said the new measures would help protect personal information as well as helping prevent online theft, fraud and rumour spreading.

"As the country enters the Internet age, network security has become a national security issue and social stability issue, important to economic development and a serious day-to-day working issue for citizens," the ministry said in the statement.

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