Publisher recalls Deep Web File after complaints it is unsuitable for young readers

Publisher recalls Deep Web File after complaints it is unsuitable for young readers

The Chinese-language book, containing violence and sexual content, was available even to primary school children

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Deep Web File seen at The Commercial press in Causeway Bay, wrapped in plastic.
Photo: David Wong/SCMP

A bestselling book series containing violence and sexual content, including a passage detailing cooking a little girl, is under investigation by the publication watchdog after public outrage over the series’ popularity and unrestricted distribution even among primary school children.

The two-book, Chinese-language Deep Web File series explains how to surf the “deep web” which cannot be reached by usual search engines. It was recalled on Wednesday by the publisher, Idea Publication, which admitted it “mishandled” distribution. The publisher initially distributed the books without a graphic content warning, and some shops put the books, unwrapped and unaccompanied by any warning, on their bestseller shelves.


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Hua Yuk-ting from South Island School says: “Many people worry that certain books will encourage unhealthy behaviour but healthy discussion and interaction with people and society in real life will eradicate the negative possibilities that certain books may cause.”

“I think young adult fiction or books with violence should be free for everyone to read,” says Armaan Dayal from King George V School. “Otherwise the right to read would be broken. However I do believe that there should be suggestions or warnings on books clearly stating who the target audience is.”

A spokeswoman for the Office for Film, Newspaper and Article Administration said it was investigating. “If the distribution of the books is found to have breached the Control of Obscene and Indecent Articles Ordinance, the office will take proper follow-up actions,” she said.

The spokeswoman said the office had received 125 complaints over the books by 5pm on Wednesday.

Under the ordinance, if a publication has indecent content, the publisher must not distribute it to people aged below 18 and must seal the publication in a wrapper with printed warnings on its front and back covers.

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Publisher recalls book about the ‘deep web’

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