Seriously, this is not a joke. These cartoon web cops named "JIngjing" and "Chacha" (the word "jing cha" means "police" in Chinese) will apparently be patrolling websites originating in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen.
According to the respected China news blog, China Digital Times, the Beijing Youth Daily reported the story via Chinese e-Governance Net (translated from the Chinese by CDT). Read the CDT for the whole thing, but here are some choice excerpts:
Starting today, when netizens visit all the main portals of Shenzhen city, Guangdong, they will see two cartoon figures "Jingjing" and "Chacha" (Jing Cha = Police). The image of Shenzhen Internet Police will officially be online. From now on, when netizens visit websites and web forums of Shenzhen, they will see these two cartoon police images floating on their screen. Our reporter learned that these are the images of Shenzhen Internet Police, presented by Internet Surveillance Division of Shenzhen Public Security Bureau, for the first time in China.
While the Jingjing and Chacha will be linked to instant messaging accounts where netizens can get questions answered about internet security, their real purpose is intimidation, authorities admit. According to the Public Security official interviewed by the Beijing Youth Daily, their real function is to remind internet users that the Chinese police are watching people online no differently than offliine. In other words: don't do anything online that you wouldn't do in a physical public place in China! The article continues:
"The main function of Jingjing and Chacha is to intimidate, not to answer questions," our reporter was told by officials in charge of The Internet Security and Surveillance Division of Shenzhen Public Security Bureau. The Internet has been always monitored by police, the significance of Jingjing and Chacha's appearence is to publicly remind all netizens to be conscious of safe and healthy use of the Internet, self-regulate their online behavior, and maintain harmonious Internet order together.
There you have it.