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Teens' privacy with e-mails, text messages debated

[ 2009-09-29 14:17]     字号 [] [] []  
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A proposed law preventing anyone, including parents, from reading or revealing minors' mobile text messages, online chatting records and e-mails has sparked controversy among parents and experts.

Protection of a minor's privacy is prioritized in the twice-amended regulation of the Law on Protection of Minors, which will take effect on Oct 1 in Hubei province, said Li Chunsheng, director of the Hubei provincial minors' rights protection center.

"The rule of preventing parents or other individuals from reading or revealing minors' privacy like mobile text messages and online records has since stirred up many debates," Li said.

But it was finally included in the rule because online chats and mobile text messages have become popular for minors, Li said.

But experts are questioning how the supplementary regulation, especially preventing parents from reading children's text messages and chatting records, would be enforced.

"Will children sue their parents if their privacy is revealed? It is hard to enforce such a regulation," said Tao Hongkai, an educational professor of Central China Normal University.

Tao says that the rule is too harsh.

"The rule has violated parents' guardianship rights of their children. Minors should be guided by parents when using text messages and talking online," Tao said. Parents are also worried about guarding their children.

"It is ridiculous. How can children understand the negative effects of some online sources if they are not guarded by parents?" said Peng Jun, a father of a seven-year-old daughter.

"The rule is a copy of the rules in the West. But you have to know China has a totally different situation in terms of protection of minors' rights," he said.

Some children, however, welcome such a regulation, saying it would help them better stay away from parents' stricter supervision.

"I know almost everything about the Internet. But my parents always worry about me and set a limited time for me when surfing the Internet. It is really annoying," said Huang Yijuan, a 14-year-old girl in Hubei-based Huangshi Middle School.

China's revised law on the protection of minors went into effect on June 1, 2007. Local authorities base their specific regulations on this law.

(英语点津 许雅宁编辑)

Teens' privacy with e-mails, text messages debated

About the broadcaster:

Teens' privacy with e-mails, text messages debated

Chantal Anderson is a multimedia journalist at the China Daily Web site. Originally from Seattle, Washington she has found her way around the world doing photo essays in Greece, Mexico and Thailand. She is currently completing a double degree in Journalism and International Studies from the University of Washington.