China’s karaoke crackdown

Hundreds of bars install government box that spies on music

China’s karaoke bars are being monitored as part of the government’s crackdown on vulgarity and dissent.

Nearly 180 bars in the city of Chongqing and hundreds more around the country have installed the government’s National Karaoke Content Management System or “The Black Box” as it is more popularly known, which monitors the playlist remotely and automatically calls the police if a warbler selects a vulgar tune or banned song.

The banned songs contain obscenities or rallying calls for independence in places such as Tibet.

At least 10 songs containing what authorities consider vulgar words, including “Nightmare,” “Even the Pig Smiles” and “Conquer the World,” have been deleted so far.

The system is also aimed at stopping piracy, as it logs unlicensed imports of music.

As part of the campaign against smut, the culture ministry also is monitoring 81,000 Internet cafes to weed out “lewd, pornographic and violent content.” It blocked access to banned websites more than 87 million times in 2009.

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