China unveils kinder, gentler, more cartoon-like online police state

Censorship never looked so cute.

China is rolling out some adoringly fascist cartoon police officers that will pop up on popular websites, warning surfers to stay away from illegal content. Right now, the characters will only appear on the top 13 most popular web portals. By the end of the year, they are expected to be on every website registered on Chinese servers.

China has the second largest population of web users, at 137 million, and are on track to overtake the United States in the next two years. Too bad they can't use the web to express opinions, learn about the world, or do just about anything deemed politically or morally inappropriate by the Communist Party. And if you try, you'll get a cuddly cartoon reminder that Big Brother is definitely watching.

Experts expect a cartoon George Orwell to appear on Chinese websites by the end of the year, screaming and gnashing his teeth.