China adopts new rules for tighter internet censorship

Yesterday, China adopted a new set of rules to govern content on the internet. Released (in Chinese) by the country’s most powerful internet regulator, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), the set of regulations addresses problems that other countries also face, such as misinformation and online fraud.

However, the main purpose of the new rules seems to be to give the authorities legal justifications to widely censor online content and punish those who create it, or rather to simplify and consolidate various laws that already served that purpose. China Law Translate has an English rendering of the new rules, and a summary of the content the rules proscribe and encourage. These include:

Encouraged: Spreading and explaining Party doctrine, with “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era” listed as priority number one; spreading the Core Socialist Values; and increasing China’s international influence.

Negative: Sensationalizing headlines; sexual innuendo, suggestion, or enticement; gore and horror; and incitement of discrimination.

Illegal: Content endangering national security, divulging State secrets, subverting the national regime, and destroying national unity; content demeaning or denying the deeds and spirit of heroes and martyrs; content promoting terrorism or extremism; and content inciting ethnic hatred or ethnic discrimination, or destroying ethnic unity, etc.  

The new rules have already had their first victims. Radio Free Asia reports:

Large numbers of social media accounts were being shut down on Monday by content providers, who are obliged to police content published on their platforms, RFA has learned…

A new set of regulations took effect on Sunday warning content creators and their platforms that content that seeks to “hype” news stories including scandals and official wrongdoing or “improperly comments” on major news events will result in the deletion of user accounts.

—Jeremy Goldkorn