Beijing: China has shutdown 89 websites for allegedly indulging in blackmail and fraudulent activities in the name of government organisations or charity groups.
Many of the websites, tackled in a spate of closures beginning in March, claimed to serve anti-corruption and law enforcement agencies, according to a statement released today by the State Internet Information Office.
Their operators would fabricate negative news stories and threaten to post them online if the organisations or individuals targeted didn`t pay hush money, it said.
In other cases, counterfeit media licenses and journalist certificates were on sale for thousands of yuan each in the name of administrative organs, state-run news agency Xinhua reported.
"Some of these websites even formed alliances to jointly demand ransoms from organisations, companies and individuals, causing severe damage.
The closure of these sites has won support from various social circles," the statement said.
In a case revealed in March by the Ministry of Public Security, police shut down a fake police website and arrested four suspects.
The website, named "China Internet Supervision and Investigation Authority," pledged to help consumers who had "fallen victim to online fraud" recover their losses, but required them to pay service fees or deposits.
The office said it would continue to crack down on fraudulent websites and ensure the order of the internet.
In another move to promote a healthy online environment, the office has led several other government organisations, including the ministries of culture and public security, in opening an awards scheme that will honour 100 "civilised websites" nationwide.
The selection, with two categories (news and government websites, and websites for commercial and other purposes), will be conducted through various stages including content appraisal, questionnaires, online polling and supervisory evaluations.
Websites registered in China can submit their applications from August and the appraisal and selection process will kick off in October with third-party supervision by the China Internet Network Information Centre, it said.