HCM CITY — The Ministry of Information and Communications has decided to temporarily stop licensing online games, ban advertisements of online games, and cut off from 11pm to 6am internet access to shops that offer public the use of PCs.
Minister Le Doan Hop announced the decision at a meeting on Tuesday with concerned departments, said Luu Vu Hai, director of the ministry's Electronic Information and Broadcasting Department.
The decision would be valid until the end of this year, by which time the ministry expected the Government to approve draft regulations on online games, Hai said.
The rule on cutting off access to establishments with PCs offering public the use of internet on PCs will be adjusted based on their location.
The crackdown on online games follows a public outcry about their negative influences on the youth. Local reports have blamed an increase in juvenile crime and school truancy on the influence of and addiction to online games.
The HCM City People's Committee last week asked the Government to ban online games imports as well as advertisements nationwide, especially of those with violent content.
The country has 22 licensed gaming companies and 93 games, of which 18 companies with 76 games are operating now.
A recent survey conducted by the Ministry of Education and Training showed 70 and 76 per cent of primary school children playing online games on weekdays in Ha Noi and HCM City, respectively.
During the weekends, 100 per cent of the respondents said they played online games.
At yesterday's meeting, Minister Hop also mentioned long-term solutions, saying the Government should work on laws to ensure information security and supervise information provided on the internet.
He also said the ministry should co-operate with the Public Security Ministry to manage internet usage with electronic IDs.
"The electronic IDs will not only be helpful for dealing with online games issues but also for mobile phone subscriber management," Hai said.
Also yesterday, deputy chairman of HCM City People's Committee Nguyen Thanh Tai urged the Department of Information and Communications to work harder in cracking down on online games with violent, gambling and pornographic content.
Le Manh Ha, the department's director, said eight out of 15 gaming companies in the city had sent their reports on violence basing on six levels set by the department.
Level 1 denotes fighting without weapons, Level 4 has individuals fighting with guns and bombs, and Level 6 involves mass killing.
Ha said the department had asked the companies to rate games based on the age of gamers, into six groups: below 6; 6-11; 12-15; 15-18; above 18; and "unsuitable for all ages".
The companies have also been asked to declare the games dealing with violence, gambling and pornography.
The city authorities were determined to deal strictly with games that negatively affect young people, Tai said at the meeting. — VNS