[AFP] Mobile users in China will be banned from sending short messages if they are found to have distributed pornography or other "illegal" content by phone, state media said Wednesday.
China Mobile, the world's biggest cell-phone operator, is helping Chinese police in a campaign to crack down on "illegal short messages", the Nanfang Daily newspaper reported.
Subscribers will have their text messaging services cut if they are found by the company's "checking system" or reported by other users to have distributed obscene, violent or other "unhealthy" messages, it said.
They will also be required to promise in writing not to distribute such content in future if they want their services to be restored, the report added.
China Mobile had 518.1 million subscribers at the end of November, according to the latest company figures -- more than 70 percent of the country's mobile phone users.
China strictly censors the Internet and other media, saying it is aimed at curbing pornographic or violent content.
But critics allege the so-called "Great Firewall of China" is used to curb the spread of political content deemed a threat to Communist Party rule and strangle dissent.
More than 15,000 pornographic websites, including over 11,000 mobile WAP sites -- websites that users can access via cell phones -- have been shut down or blocked in 2009, the official Xinhua news agency said Tuesday.
Beijing has vowed tougher online policing in 2010 as a key element of "state security."
China mobile users risk SMS ban in porn crackdown