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Law seeks to stop parents from spying on minors

07-26-2010 09:25 BJT

BEIJING, July 26 (Xinhuanet) -- Starting in September, minors in Chongqing in Southwest China will have the legal means to defend themselves against cases of "spying" by their parents.

Under a new regional law aimed to protect the rights of children, parents will be forbidden from secretly searching through children's computers or cell phones for emails, diaries, web chats or short messages.

The regulation, adopted on Friday by the Chongqing local legislature, is the first of its kind anywhere in China, the Chongqing Evening Post reported on Saturday.

By the end of 2009, the number of minors using the Internet on the mainland exceeded 126 million, with about 74 percent of them accessing the web at home, according to the China Internet Network Information Center.

Lu Yulin, a professor at the China Youth University of Political Science, doesn't see this precedent as having much of effect in reality, noting that most children would not very likely bring their parents to court.

"It will bring little change, as parents who habitually check such information won't stop due to the regulation," he said.

Nonetheless he conceded that the regulation in Chongqing signifies major progress in terms of laws for child privacy protection.

One way or another, Song Jingbo, a sixth grader in northwestern city of Xi'an of Shaanxi province, said that his parents have a long way to go before they can hack into his computer.

"I am far more Internet savvy than they are," said the 11-year-old who goes online for about two hours a day, mostly to communicate with friends and play games.

However, if Song caught his parents intruding into his cyberspace, he said: "I won't call the police, as I know they just want to help protect me."

A survey by popular online portal indicated that nearly 42 percent of some 2,500 respondents did not welcome the regulation in Chongqing.

But parents have the responsibility to monitor the children who lack self-control, said Ni Qian, a mother of a 13-year-old boy in the municipality.

Internet use, she said, could very easily pose hazards to minor users. For instance, she said, her boy might search online for "Lego", which might be mistakenly typed as "legs" - and then he may be directed to websites related to legs.

"Some of them", she added, "may be pornographic."

Editor:Zhang Jingya |Source: China Daily

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