BEIJING — Mobile phone users in central China could face jail for sending unwanted erotic text messages while in the north, one local Communist Party branch has held 480 meetings on the problem in the past month.
Henan province has announced that firing off just one such message could see the sender slapped in detention for up to five days, the China Daily reported on Tuesday.
Three messages could result in 10 days behind bars and a fine of 500 yuan (73 dollars), the English-language newspaper reported.
The province's legal office announced the new penalties to address the growing problem of unwanted and inappropriate text messages in a country with more than 600 million mobile phone users, it said.
"I'm totally for the rules. It's uncomfortable to get dirty text messages from male friends and even more gross when they are from strangers," Zhang Kai, 26, told the daily.
"But I'll take them as jokes and reply if they are from my female friends," said Zhang, whose gender was not given.
Henan is not the first province to tackle the problem. Liaoning in the northeast passed a regulation earlier this year that such messages could be part of a sexual harassment charge, the paper said.
In a similar move, Communist Party members in Shenze county, in Hebei province, will be punished for sending text messages with "inappropriate" content, the People's Daily said.
"Obscene information not only harms the people's soul but harms the people's morality as well," it quoted the party rule as saying.
Offenders would face an unspecified punishment and the worst ones would be named and shamed in the media.
Since July 10, Shenze party officials have held 480 meetings to discuss the harmful effects of obscene messages, a degree of dedication that has been questioned by the public, the People's Daily said.
"It's not necessary to hold 480 meetings on this. This is an enormous waste of administrative resources," an Internet user named Han Haoyue was quoted as saying.
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