Country asks site to apologize over lewd content

BEIJING — In a postscript to the nude celeb photo scandal that has rocked Hong Kong in recent weeks, Chinese Internet authorities have asked the country’s leading search engine, Baidu.com, to apologize for spreading pornographic pics of what appear to be thesp Edison Chen with various starlets.

Such explicit pics are rare in China, where pornography is illegal.

The Beijing Internet news information review council, which is part of the state-run Beijing Assn. of Online Media, issued a statement severely criticizing Nasdaq-listed Baidu’s behavior.

The council is made up of Communist Party cadres and various Internet experts. Baidu is one of 42 webcos that have agreed to follow its ruling.

The statement slammed Baidu for failing to block the photos on a number of its websites, even after others had blocked the pics.

It praised other Chinese sites, including Sohu.com, Sina.com and Netease, as they called for users “not to download, save and spread the photos” and “to prevent the photos from falling into the hands of children.”

“They have shown their conscience and responsibility,” it said, calling on all Chinese websites not to spread smut as part of efforts to create “a clean, healthy and civilized Internet environment.”

There has been a widespread clampdown on Internet smut in China, part of a broader crackdown on immorality and dissent ahead of the Olympics.

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