People’s Daily: Network Expressions Should Also Be Proper and Lawful

This People’s Daily op-ed appeared widely in Chinese media, as well as the website of the National People’s Congress. I could write a long analysis about it, but it is the usual, disingenuous claptrap anyway, so I can’t be bothered.

After the National People’s Congress Standing Committee’ Decision concerning Strengthening Network Information Protection appeared, some people displayed misunderstanding concerning this and called it into question – believing that this might impede or suppress the space for public opinion among the people.

The Internet has already become an important platform for citizens to express thoughts and participate in social activities at the present time. Although this platform is different from traditional platforms, the fact that those expressing themselves must abide by the principles of the propriety, legality and responsibility of their expressions has not changed. Expressions on network platforms may have a dual character, namely that apart from lawful expressions, there are also people that might use the network to engage in insults, slander, fraud, sex and other illegal activities.

Strengthening network management reflects “the integration of rights and duties”. On the one side, it is necessary to protect citizens’ freedom of speech and right to expression, on the other side, citizens are required to be responsible for the content of their expressions. The basic function of having real names at the back stage of the network is that it raises the costs for starting and disseminating rumours, and frighten people scheming to start and disseminate rumours. If rumours are allowed to be disseminated, it will be freedom of speech that will be harmed in the end.

There are boundaries to social life, there are also bottom lines for the network world. As everyone knows, “freedom” is relative, this is the same in the network world and in real society, absolute freedom does not exists.

Dealing with the network requires tolerance, but there should not be closed eyes. Our country implements legal standards for network “freedom”, and will effectively overcome the problem of “the jungle of freedom”, so that not only the network world will be even more healthy, civilized and ordered, at the came time, citizens’ free expression will also be guaranteed more powerfully.

网络表达同样应正当合法
全国人大常委会关于加强网络信息保护的决定出台后,一些人对此产生误解和质疑,认为这可能会掣肘、压缩民间舆论空间。
互联网已成为当今时代公民表达思想、参与社会生活的重要平台。这个平台虽有别于传统平台,但表达者必须遵循表达的正当性、合法性与责任性原则没有改变。在网络平台上的表达,可能产生两面性,即除了合法表达外,还有人可能利用网络进行侮辱、诽谤、诈骗、色情等非法活动。
加强网络管理,体现了“权利义务相统一”。一方面要保护公民的言论自由表达权利,另一方面要求公民对自己表达的内容负责。网络后台实名的根本作用在于,让造谣传谣的成本变得高昂,震慑企图造谣传谣的人。如果任谣言传播,恰恰最后受伤害的就是言论自由。
社会生活有边界,网络世界有底线。众所周知,“自由”是相对的,网络世界与现实社会一样,并不存在绝对自由。
对待网络需要宽容而不能纵容。我国对网络的“自由”进行法律规范,将有效克服“自由丛林”的弊端,不仅网络世界会更加健康文明有序,同时公民的自由表达也将得到更有力的保障。

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