Beijing has launched a recruitment drive for 4,000 web watchdogs to watch over the capital's cybercafes and internet service providers in the latest move to step up control over cyberspace. The new recruits, termed internet security officers, were being hired by the Beijing Internet Safety Service Centre under the Beijing Public Security Bureau, a China News Service report said. They would be used to 'service' the city's 800 cybercafes and 3,000 internet service providers through cyber-monitoring, the report said. Another duty for the new recruits would be to defend internet transactions, a task to be carried out by the Public Security Bureau in conjunction with financial and telecommunications authorities. The report said the centre had been founded with the mission of 'erasing all sorts of unhealthy information and safeguarding the operating environment of all websites'. Applicants should possess college-level computer skills and professional certificates, and have a good understanding of government policies. Once they detected visits to pornographic sites, scams involving secure information, or the distribution of false information, the recruits should immediately report them to police, the report said. Zhao Shiqiang, director of the web monitoring agency under the city's Public Security Bureau, was quoted as saying that the growing number of internet crimes in the city, mostly fraud and ID theft via the web, was the main reason behind the drive to set up the taskforce. About 1,350 internet fraud cases were filed with the bureau last year, while for the first quarter of this year the total had risen to 1,361, Mr Zhao said. With China's online population growing at breakneck pace, the authorities are intensifying their campaign to control internet users, with more recruitment and more sophisticated monitoring software. Official figures show the country had 94 million internet users at the end of last year and the number should rise by 28 per cent to 120 million this year. Last month the propaganda departments of provincial and municipal governments were instructed to build teams of web commentators, whose responsibility would be to guide discussion on public bulletin boards away from politically sensitive topics by posting opinions anonymously or under pseudonyms. A government order has also been issued that all websites, bloggers and bulletin-board operators must register with the central or local governments or be closed down and fined. In March, bulletin boards run by some leading universities were blocked to off-campus internet users as part of the campaign to strengthen students' ideological education.