ArrowArtboardCreated with Sketch.Title ChevronTitle ChevronEye IconIcon FacebookIcon LinkedinIcon Mail ContactPath LayerIcon MailPositive ArrowIcon PrintTitle ChevronIcon Twitter
Politics

China tightens iron grip on internet with new law

Number of cases deemed by Beijing to be problematic rose 20% last year

China's proposed rules would raise maximum fines for spreading false internet rumors.   © Reuters

BEIJING -- China is strengthening its viselike hold on the internet, significantly broadening the range of activities that are subject to regulation by updating legislation for the first time in two decades.

This past Friday, the nation's internet watchdog unfurled draft amendments to rules regulating online services. The proposal is the first major revision its kind since the directives were first put in place in 2000. It would double the number of articles to 54 from 27 to accommodate the rise of smartphones, social media and video-sharing sites.

The maximum fine for disseminating information deemed false and disturbing social order will be lifted to 1 million yuan ($154,000). The penalty will especially target coronavirus misinformation, as well as postings judged harmful to national security.

The new rules will also ban services that delete social media posts for a fee and outlaw improper trading of online accounts.

The authorities will take comment from experts on the proposed rules until early February, and the decrees are expected to take effect later in the year.

Illegal and inappropriate material noted by the authorities totaled 163 million cases in 2020, recent official statistics show -- up nearly 20% on the year.

In China, individuals must provide key personal identifying information to use social media and or other internet services. Registering false information or using services under another person's name is forbidden. SIM card transactions are regulated: Paperwork must be filled out before lending a card to someone else.

Companies are expected to have users abide by the new regulations. Services that provide news and information will operate under a licensing regime. The authorities will establish a blacklist, and designated organizations and individuals will be banned from disseminating information for three years.

The new rules appear to be part of the tougher enforcement that President Xi Jinping and his administration are imposing on online speech. In November, the authorities announced fresh regulations governing live video streams in response to the surging consumption of them.

These rules require livestreaming companies to register with the government, and minors are banned from donating money to livestream influencers.

China has tackled cyberspace regulation since Xi took power in 2012 as general secretary of the Communist Party. Cybersecurity legislation took effect in 2017. In 2020, the authorities unveiled a draft data security law to strictly govern how enterprises handle digital information.

Sponsored Content

About Sponsored Content This content was commissioned by Nikkei's Global Business Bureau.

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this monthThis is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia;
the most dynamic market in the world.

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia

Get trusted insights from experts within Asia itself.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Try 1 month for $0.99

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this month

This is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia; the most
dynamic market in the world
.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Try 3 months for $9

Offer ends January 31st

Your trial period has expired

You need a subscription to...

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers and subscribe

Your full access to Nikkei Asia has expired

You need a subscription to:

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers
NAR on print phone, device, and tablet media

Nikkei Asian Review, now known as Nikkei Asia, will be the voice of the Asian Century.

Celebrate our next chapter
Free access for everyone - Sep. 30

Find out more