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15,000 people arrested in China for ‘Internet crimes’

Chinese officials say they have detained 15,000 people for crimes that “jeopardized Internet security,” as they intensify a campaign to detect illegal Internet activities.

China’s Ministry of Public Security made the announcement in a late Tuesday statement, without specifying when the arrests had been made, with some reports, however, saying that the arrest campaign may have been conducted in the last few months.

A total of 7,400 cases of cybercrime have also been investigated by police officers, who will continue to “destroy online criminal gangs,” the statement said.

The ministry also targeted websites providing “illegal and harmful information,” and advertisements for pornography and gambling sites, according to the statement.

In one case of alleged Internet criminal activity, seven detained suspects took control of a company’s website and filled its pages with online gambling advertisements. The people have reportedly hacked 2,000 company websites.

In another alleged case, the arrested suspects sent SMS messages including a link to download malware to mobile phone users. By controlling the user’s phone, the malware could then steal personal information, including bank card numbers.

Last month, the Ministry of Public Security declared a six-month “cleaning the internet” campaign to investigate crimes like fraud and extortion and remove harmful content such as pornography.

In July, China’s legislature ratified a comprehensive national security law, which empowers the state to take all necessary measures to prevent the spread of “illegal or harmful information.”

China has the world’s biggest population of Internet users, which stands at some 668 million. The country is witnessing a surge in cybercrime as the Internet grows. According to Chinese officials, SMS messages containing links to malware have been particularly on the rise.

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