China to monitor wi-fi use

Chinese authorities are trying to close one of the big loopholes in its Glorious People’s Firewall.

For years Chinese citizens have been able to avoid having their communications sniffed by the authorities by using wi-fi.

New rules now require Chinese bars, restaurants, hotels and bookstores to install web-monitoring software of wi-fi systems.

The cost of keeping the Chinese authorities happy costs wi-fi access companies $3,100. It allows public security officials to know the identities of those logging onto the wireless service of a restaurant, cafe or private school and monitors their web activity.

However according to AP, the cunning plan is backfiring. Many businesses are cutting internet access and the Internet cafes are closing.A survey of more than a dozen businesses, none said they were prepared to buy the software, which is designed to handle 100 users at one time.

Reuters quoted one cafe owner as saying that most people think that the policy is unfair, and is just an effort to control the flow of information.

It is not clear at this point how the Chinese authorities will enforce the rules as it could lead to many cyber cafes shutting. Public cybercafes, is where China’s working poor have access to the internet.

The Dongcheng Public Security Bureau claims that the the measure is designed to thwart criminals who use the internet to ”conduct blackmail, traffic goods, gamble, propagate damaging information and spread computer viruses”.

You can go to a wi-fi wine bar armed with your own laptop and surf the web without anyone knowing who you are.