Protecting Citizens’ Lawful Rights and Interests, Stimulating the Healthy Development of the Network

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– Relevant persons in charge from the Supreme People’s Court and the Supreme People’s Procuratorate Answer Journalists’ Questions concerning the “Supreme People’s Court and Supreme People’s Procuratorate Interpretation concerning Some Questions of Applicable Law When Handling Uses of Information Networks to Commit Defamation and Other Such Criminal Cases”

This interview was posted on the Supreme People’s Procuratorate website on 10 September. It provides somewhat of a background to the recent SPC/SPP Interpretation on online defamation, even if it mainly rehashes generalities. it is interesting that this interview refers to future legislative developments, potentially indicating that a process either to formulate a detailed law on online defamation or an amendment to the Criminal Law may be underway.

Q: Our country’s Criminal Law has provided for the crime of defamation, the crime of provocation, the crime of extortion and blackmail and the crime of illegal business. Why did the “Two Supremes” produce a special Interpretation to deal with use of information networks to commit crimes such as defamation, provocation, extortion, blackmail, illegal business, etc.?

A: In recent years, information technology has developed rapidly, information networks with the Internet at the centre, and including telecommunications networks and radio and television transmission coverage networks are spreading wider every day, and have become an indispensible component part of the popular masses’ work, study and life. Because information networks have the characteristics of communality, anonymity and convenience, some law-breakers use information networks as a sort of new platform for crime, they recklessly commit crimes such as defamation, provocation, extortion, blackmail, illegal business, etc., infringing citizens’ right to reputation, right to property and other such lawful rights, they upset public order and destroy market order, which carries grave social harm, the popular masses are extremely resentful about this, and all walks of society strongly react. In order to satisfy the need to struggle with online crime and respond to the call of the broad popular masses, the Supreme People’s Court and Supreme Peoples Procuratorate have, on the basis of a long time of investigation and research, broadly soliciting opinions and scientific reasoning, timely formulated and published the “Interpretation”, which as an important real significance.

First, there is a need to protect citizens’ lawful rights and interest. Committing defamation, provocation and other such crimes online sometimes infringed citizens’ right to reputations, and sometimes infringes citizens’ right to property. Online rumour fabrication and dissemination makes it difficult to distinguish true and false information in cyberspace, and has also impeded netizens’ obtaining true information from information networks. The “Interpretation” punishes the use of information networks to commit defamation and other such crimes according to the law, it is able to uphold justice for victims and restore their reputations, it is able to protect citizens’ lawful assets against violations and is able to provide a standardized, orderly and healthy online environment for the broad popular masses.

Second, there is a need to clarify the legal basis to effectively attack crime.  At present, the use of information networks to commit defamation, provocation, extortion, blackmail, illegal business and other such criminal activities are rampant. In comparison with adopting traditional means to commit the abovementioned crimes, the use of information networks to commit the abovementioned crimes that emerged over the past few years has particularities in their form of objective manifestation, but this sort of crime indubitably has real social harm. Because online information has characteristics such as a broad scope of diffusion, rapid dissemination speed, an influence that is not easy to remove, etc., the use of information networks to commit defamation and other such crimes carries a graver social harm than using traditional means to adopt the abovementioned crimes. But because our country’s Criminal Law does not contain concrete provisions with regards to the use of information networks to commit defamation and other such crimes, the problem exists in practice that applicable law is insufficiently clear. The “Interpretation” clarified the conviction and penalty standards for the use of information networks to commit defamation, provocation, extortion, blackmail, illegal business and other such crimes, which benefits the unification of judicial standards, standardized judicial activity, assists judicial organs in correctly and powerfully attacking this sort of criminal activity according to the law.

Third, there is a need to safeguard social and public order. Cyberspace has already merged into one with the real society, they are inseparable. The use of information networks to commit provocation and other such crimes has created grave destruction of social and public order. Especially the fabrication of false information, its diffusion on information networks, and acts of jeering and stirring up trouble easily lead to mass incidents and create grave upsets of public order. The “Interpretation” tightened the criminal law net, and attacks this sort of criminal activities according to the law, which assists in safeguarding social and public order and creating a good social environment for the broad popular masses.

Fourth, there is a need to guarantee citizens’ right of expression and supervision. Citizens’ expressing discourse on information networks according to the law and exercising their constitutional rights are protected by the laws of our country. But “freedom of speech” on information networks is not without limits. No country’s laws will permit “freedom of speech” that defames others. The “Interpretation” has detailed the legal boundaries of expression on information networks, and citizens may fully exercise the rights of expression and supervision endowed by the Constitution according to the law.

Fifth, there is a need to stimulate the healthy developments of information networks. The use of information networks to commit defamation, provocation, extortion, blackmail and other such crimes has resulted in the fact that information networks are no longer “pure lands”. A number of professionalized “online pushers” have even emerged, consequently, the fabrication and dissemination of rumours on information networks has become a sort of criminal activity with a relatively strong organization, resulting in “a loss of standards” in information network order, and online chaos breaking out, this influences regular economic and social order. The publication of the “Interpretation” assists in standardizing online order, strengthening daily supervision and management over information networks, expanding strength to deal with unlawful acts, and safeguarding regular economic and social order.

In fact, in order to strengthen management over information networks, our country’s legislative organs have published corresponding legal documents in the past already. In 2000, the National People’s Congress Standing Committee formulated the “Decision concerning Safeguarding Internet Security”, which clearly pointed out that: where the Internet is used to commit defamation, extortion, blackmail and other such acts, constituting a crime, criminal liability will be pursued according to the relevant provisions of the Criminal Law. Against the background of the rapid development of information networks, and especially the clear trend of the “Three Network Integration” of the Internet, telecommunications networks, and radio and television transmission coverage networks, in order to unify the application of the law, there was a necessity to produce a judicial interpretation on the use of information networks to commit defamation, provocation, extortion, blackmail, illegal business and other such crimes, and further clarify concrete conviction and penalty standards.

To sum up, the publication of the “Interpretation” assists in punishing defamation, provocation, extortion, blackmail, illegal business and other such crimes that all walks of society universally pay close attention to at present, according to the law, it complies with the universal expectation of the broad popular masses in the new era and urgent need to strictly punish cybercrime according to the laws and standardize information network order.

Q: In the process of formulating the “Interpretation”, which basic principles did the “Two Supremes” follow?

A: The “Interpretation” is an important legal document to strictly punish the use of information networks to commit defamation, provocation, extortion, blackmail, illegal business and other such crimes according to the law under new circumstances. The “Two Supremes” have given this high attention, have been extremely cautious, and haven taken more than a year of investigation and research, they have broadly solicited opinions from legislative organs, administrative organs and other judicial organs, expert scholars and persons from all walks of society on a nationwide scale, conducted earnest research and argumentation, have repeatedly revised and perfected it, and have now finally completed it. Generally speaking, the content of the “Interpretation” conforms to the spirit of legislation and the real situation of society. The process of formulating the “Interpretation”, has mainly abided by the following principles.

First, persisting in the principle of statutory penalties, and interpreting according to the law. The “Interpretation” clarified concrete conviction and penalty standards strictly according to the constitutive elements of the crimes of defamation, provocation, extortion, blackmail, illegal business, etc., as provided in the Criminal law, in integration with the characteristics of the acts of using information networks to commit the above-mentioned crimes and its real harm. Every article has a clear legal basis, conforms to the basic principle of statutory penalties, and reflects the basic requirement of interpretation according to the law. At the same time, the “Interpretation” contains clear provisions concerning the determination standard for “grave circumstances” in committing crimes, the determination standard for accomplices to crime, etc., to guarantee that in practice, cases are handled strictly according to the law.

Second, systematic interpretation aimed at the characteristics of cybercrime. The use of information networks to commit defamation and other such crimes is only a new manifestation form of defamation and other such crimes in the online era, but it has a larger real harm than traditional defamation and other such crimes. In practice, some people concoct facts harming other persons’ reputations and disseminate them on information networks, defaming other persons; some people fabricate false information and disseminate it on information networks to jeer and stir up trouble, upsetting public order; some people threaten or blackmail others through disseminating, deleting or otherwise dealing with information on information networks, demanding public or private property from them; there are also a number of so-called “online public relations companies” and “online pushers” who provide posting and other such services of fabricated false information on information networks, illegally seeking economic gain and immorally amassing wealth, etc. Such use of information networks to commit crimes is similar to using traditional means to commit crime, they shall also be convicted and punished according to the Criminal Law. With regards to the use of information networks to commit defamation, provocation, extortion, blackmail, illegal business and other such crimes, to which the popular masses react relatively prominently at present, the “Interpretation” provides systematized interpretation according to the provisions of the Criminal law and in integration with the characteristics of information networks, it provides a clear legal basis to attack the above-mentioned crimes according to the law and accumulates beneficial experiences in order to further deepen information network crime legislation.

Third, scientific interpretation on the basis of real judicial needs. Following the development and spread of information networks, in recent years, a number of cases on the use of information networks to defame others or commit extortion or blackmail already occurred, the People’s Courts have already imposed convictions and punishments according to the crime of defamation or the crime or extortion or blackmail, and have obtained good legal effects and social effects. Because of this, the “Interpretation” is, in fact, the scientific summary of judicial practice and experience. In the formulation process of the “Interpretation”, we have conducted full research and investigation, and when determining standards for criminal punishment for corresponding crimes, have broadly solicited opinions and suggestions form all sides, and conducted evidentiary analysis. The concrete provisions of the “Interpretation” conform to judicial reality and have a strong operative nature.

Fourth, emphasis on education, propaganda and guidance, fully giving rein to the function of the “Interpretation”. In the process of formulating the “Interpretation”, we have persisted in the basic criminal policies of weighing leniency and severity, persisted in equally stressing attacking the use of information networks to commit defamation and other such crimes and protecting citizens’ rights of expression and supervision, we have paid attention to utilizing the positive effects of punitive methods in prevention, standardization, education, guidance and other such aspects. The “Interpretation” is based on present reality, and attacks the use of information networks to commit corresponding crimes to which the people strongly reacted according to the law, it benefits stimulating corresponding departments to strengthen daily management over information networks, perfect prevention mechanisms for law-breaking and crime online, educate the broad netizens to consciously standardize their online words and deeds, and to achieve the good social effect of “attacking the extremely small minority and educating the large majority”. Thus it can be seen that the “Interpretation” has provided powerful legal guarantees to protect the lawful rights and interests of citizens, legal persons and other organizations, and safeguard social order.

Q: Articles 1 through 3 of the “Interpretation” clarify which concrete content of the use of information networks to commit defamation crimes? How are these to be correctly grasped in practice?”

A: Articles 1 through 3 of the “Interpretation” respectively regulate the method of conduct of, criminal threshold, and public prosecution criteria for the use of information networks to commit defamation crimes, this is the main content of the “Interpretation”.

First, Article 1 of the “Interpretation” is divided into two Paragraphs, which clarify the method of conduct of using information networks to commit defamation crimes, which is a question of determination of “fabricating facts to defame others”. Concretely, it includes three methods of conduct: the first is “fabrication and dissemination”, meaning that Paragraph I Clause (1) provides for the acts of fabrication of facts harming the reputation of other persons and disseminating them on information networks or organizing or inciting other persons to disseminate them on information networks. The second is “distortion and dissemination”, meaning that Paragraph I Clause (2) provides for acts of use of information networks to distort the content of original information involving other persons into facts harming other persons’ reputations, and disseminating them on information networks, or organizing or inciting persons to disseminate them on information networks. The third is “clearly knowing that facts are false and disseminating them”, meaning that Paragraph II provides that acts of clearly knowing that facts are fabricated and harm other persons’ reputations, disseminating them on information networks, with vile circumstances, are to be interpreted as “fabricating facts to defame others”. The above acts all reflect that the actor has a subjective intent to fabricate facts to defame others, and may be determined to committed the defamation crime of “fabricating facts to defame others”. In the “new media” era, everyone may become an information publisher and disseminator, every person shall consciously abide by the provisions of the law. Information networks are no “extra-legal territory”, those actors who recklessly fabricate facts and maliciously defame others shall bear the corresponding legal liability according to the law.

Second, Article 2 of the “Interpretation” clarifies the criminal thresholds for the use of information networks to commit defamation crimes. Because information networks have characteristics such as rapid dissemination speeds as well as the difficulty to eliminate the content of online posts, the use of information networks to commit acts of defamation often can create grave and real harmful consequences. Article 2 of the “Interpretation” clarifies the criminal threshold standards for the use of information networks to commit defamation crimes in terms of the hit or browsing rates, or the number of reposts of the defaming information, the real harmful consequences caused by the act of defamation, the subjective malice of the defaming actor and other factors. In practice, some law-breakers fabricate facts harming other persons’ reputations and maliciously disseminate them on information networks, where within a very short period of time, the hit rate can be numbered by the tens of thousands, dissemination is very rapid, the bad influence very broad, causing a grave influence on the victim’s work and life, or even causing mental disorder with the victim or other such grave consequences, this should be convicted and punished as criminal defamation according to the law.

Third, Article 3 of the “Interpretation” clarifies the procedural conditions for the public prosecution of the use of information networks to commit criminal defamation. On the basis of the provisions of the Criminal Law, criminal defamation cases are to be initiated upon complaint, except where they “gravely harm social order or national interests”. Article 3 of the “interpretation” provides for seven kinds of circumstances, triggering mass incidents, triggering upsets of public order, triggering ethnic or religious clashes, slandering many persons, causing vile social influence, harming the country’s image, gravely harming national interests and causing vile international influence, that shall be determined as “gravely harming social order and national interests”, public prosecution procedures may be used, the public security organs may file cases and investigate them, procuratorial organs may raise an indictment. The use of public prosecution procedures for this sort of criminal defamation both conforms to the provisions of the Criminal law, and to the real need of effectively dealing with the use of information networks to commit criminal defamation. All levels’ judicial organs must correctly understand and grasp the above circumstances, and must give prominence to attacking focus points and punishing criminal defamation according to the law, and must also implement the criminal policy of weighing leniency and severity, preventing that the area of attack is expanded.

Q: Article 5 of the “Interpretation” provides that the use of information to concoct and disseminate false information, causing grave upsets of public order, is to be convicted and punished as criminal provocation, on which considerations is this based?

A: Article 5 Paragraph II of the Interpretation clarifies that where information networks are used to fabricate or disseminate false information, jeer or stir up trouble, causing grave upsets to public order, this shall be convicted and punished as criminal provocation. At present, a few law-breakers fabricate and disseminate false information on information networks on a large scale, the information of this content is not directed at specific natural persons, but is aimed at upsetting social order and harming public interests. This sort of information, when disseminated online, easily triggers social panics and causes grave upsets to social order. Recently, many mass incidents happened in various locations, many are triggered by law-breakers fabricating false information and disseminating it on information networks.

Cyberspace belongs to the public space, online order is also an important component part of social and public order. Following the rapid development of information technology, information networks and people’s real lives have become merged together, they are inseparable. Safeguarding social and public order is the common responsibility of the whole body of netizens. Some law-breakers use information networks to maliciously fabricate and disseminate false information, jeer and cause trouble, triggering grave upsets of social and public order, this causes real social harm, and criminal liability should be prosecuted for criminal provocation.

Q: Article 6 of the “interpretation” provides that threatening or blackmailing others through disseminating, deleting or otherwise dealing with information on information networks, and demanding public or private property, where values are relatively large, or the abovementioned act is committed repeatedly, is to be convicted and punished as criminal extortion or blackmail. What are the concrete forms win which this sort of crime manifests itself? How will judicial organs, during the process of adjudication, correctly determine the boundary between criminal and non-criminal?

A: Article 6 of the “Interpretation” clarified determination standards for the use of information networks to commit criminal extortion or blackmail. It is mainly aimed at a number of law-breakers who publish negative information online involving a victim or an injured work unit, or collect negative information related to a victim or injured work unit online, actively contact the victim or injured work unit, and demand property from them, giving reasons such as helping them delete it or “sink to the bottom”. There mainly are two forms in which this sort of crime manifests itself, being: “posting” extortion and “post deletion” extortion, the former is blackmail by going to announce negative information and requiring that the victim hands over property, the latter is first disseminating negative information on information networks, and then extorting the victim by demanding he hands over property to delete the posts. This sort of act essentially means that the actor takes illegal ownership, and uses information networks to threaten or blackmail others, victims are forced to hand over property because of fear or because they are under some sort of pressure, this confirms to the constitutive elements of the crime of extortion or blackmail, and shall be convicted and punished as criminal extortion or blackmail.

In judicial practice, attention shall be paid to correctly delimiting crime and non-crime from two sides. First, it is necessary that the actor must actively threaten or blackmail the victim or injured work unit, and ask for property. If the actor does not actively contacts the victim to arrange for the deletion of posts, and does not threaten or blackmail him, but in circumstances where the victim actively drops in and requests the deletion of posts, and the actor collects fees from the victim under headings such as “advertising fees, support fees”, “service fees”, etc., it shall not be determined to be criminal extortion and blackmail. Second, this article uses the description “information”, and not “false information”. Where actors threaten that they will publish negative information about victims or injured work units on information networks, even if it is true, as long as the actor starts from an objective of unlawful possession, and extorts public or private property by disseminating or deleting this negative information, it will constitute criminal extortion or blackmail.

Q: Article 7 of the “Interpretation” provides that providing paid-fro information deletion services through information networks with a commercial aim, or providing paid-for information dissemination and other such services through information networks where it is clearly known that the information is false, and this upsets market order, this is to be convicted and punished as the crime of illegal business. This provisions are mainly aimed at which kind of situations. How is this to be correctly determined in judicial practice?

A: Article 7 of the Interpretation clarified punishment standards for the use of information networks to commit the crime of illegal business. The National People’s Congress Standing Committee “Decision concerning Safeguarding Internet Security” and the State Council “Internet Information Service Management Rules” contain clear provisions on information provision service activities through the Internet to online users. In practice, a number of so-called “online public relations companies”, “marketing companies”, “online pushers” and others, provide paid-for information deletion services to other persons on information networks with a commercial aim and without permits, or provide paid-for information dissemination and other such services to others through information networks, clearly knowing that the information is false, this sort of activity violates State provisions and upsets market order, it brings relatively great harm to society, and shall be convicted and punished as illegal business.

This Article clearly provides that for the provision of paid-for information dissemination and other such services to other persons through information networks to constitute a crime, there is a precondition that the actor must clearly know that the information he disseminates is false information. if the actor does not clearly know that the disseminated information is false information, even if fees are collected, it will not be determined to be a crime of illegal business. But in relation to the provision of paid-for information deletion services through information networks, the “Interpretation” does not demand that the actor clearly knows that the deleted information is false information. At present, the main business of a number of illegal “online public relations companies” is “post deletion”, a considerable part of the information they delete is true information disseminated by the popular masses. The State protects information network users’ regular and lawful information circulation and service activities, this also is an important component part of the market order of online information services. Where actors delete information network users’ true information for payment, they violate the broad netizens’ lawful rights and interests, and gravely destroy the online information services market order, in conformity with the constitutive elements of the crime of illegal business, this shall be punished according to the law.

保护公民合法权益 促进网络健康发展

——最高人民法院、最高人民检察院有关部门负责人就《最高人民法院、最高人民检察院关于办理利用信息网络实施诽谤等刑事案件适用法律若干问题的解释》答记者问

记者:我国刑法对诽谤罪、寻衅滋事罪、敲诈勒索罪、非法经营罪已有规定。对于利用信息网络实施的诽谤、寻衅滋事、敲诈勒索、非法经营等犯罪,“两高”为何又作出专门解释?

负责人:近年来,信息技术快速发展,以互联网为主体的包括通信网、广播电视传输覆盖网在内的信息网络日益普及,已成为人民群众工作、学习、生活不可缺少的组成部分。由于信息网络具有公共性、匿名性、便捷性等特点,一些不法分子将信息网络作为一种新的犯罪平台,恣意实施诽谤、寻衅滋事、敲诈勒索、非法经营等犯罪,侵犯公民的名誉权、财产权等合法权益,扰乱公共秩序,破坏市场秩序,具有严重的社会危害性,人民群众十分痛恨,社会各界反应强烈。为满足同网络犯罪作斗争的需要,回应广大人民群众的呼声,最高人民法院、最高人民检察院在长期调研、广泛征求意见、科学论证的基础上,适时制定出台了《解释》,具有重要的现实意义。

第一,是保护公民合法权益的需要。在信息网络上实施的诽谤、敲诈勒索等犯罪,有的侵害了公民的名誉权,有的侵犯了公民的财产权。网络造谣、传谣行为,导致网络空间上的信息真假难辨,也妨碍了网民从信息网络上获取真实信息。《解释》依法惩治利用信息网络实施的诽谤等犯罪,能够为受害者伸张正义,恢复名誉,能够保护公民合法财产不受侵犯,也能够为广大人民群众提供规范、有序、健康的网络环境。

第二,是明确法律依据有效打击犯罪的需要。当前,利用信息网络实施诽谤、寻衅滋事、敲诈勒索、非法经营等犯罪活动猖獗。与采取传统手段实施的上述犯罪相比,近些年来出现的利用信息网络实施的上述犯罪在客观表现形式上具有特殊性,但此类犯罪毫无疑问具有现实的社会危害性。由于网络信息具有扩散范围广、传播速度快、影响不易消除等特点,利用信息网络实施的诽谤等犯罪比采用传统手段实施的上述犯罪具有更严重的社会危害性。但由于我国刑法对利用信息网络实施的诽谤等犯罪并无具体规定,因此实践中存在着法律适用不够明确的问题。《解释》明确了利用信息网络实施的诽谤、寻衅滋事、敲诈勒索、非法经营等犯罪的定罪量刑标准,有利于统一司法标准、规范司法行为,有助于司法机关依法准确、有力地打击此类犯罪活动。

第三,是维护社会公共秩序的需要。网络空间与现实社会已经融为一体、不可分割。利用信息网络实施的寻衅滋事等犯罪,对社会公共秩序造成了严重的破坏。特别是编造虚假信息,在信息网络上散布,起哄闹事的行为,易引发群体性事件,造成公共秩序严重混乱。《解释》严密了刑事法网,依法打击此类犯罪行为,有助于维护社会公共秩序,为广大人民群众创造了良好的社会环境。

第四,是保障公民表达权和监督权的需要。公民依法在信息网络上发表言论,行使宪法权利,受我国法律的保护。但信息网络上的“言论自由”也并非没有边界。任何一个国家的法律都不会允许有诽谤他人的“言论自由”。《解释》厘清了在信息网络上发表言论的法律边界,公民可以依法充分行使宪法赋予的表达权和监督权。

第五,是促进信息网络健康发展的需要。利用信息网络实施的诽谤、寻衅滋事、敲诈勒索、非法经营等犯罪,使信息网络不再是一方“净土”。甚至还出现一些职业化的“网络推手”,使信息网络造谣、传谣成为一种组织性较强的犯罪活动,导致信息网络秩序“失范”,网络乱象丛生,影响了正常的经济、社会秩序。《解释》的出台,有助于规范网络秩序,强化对信息网络的日常监管,加大对违法行为的整治力度,维持正常的经济、社会秩序。

实际上,为加强对信息网络的管理,我国立法机关此前出台过相关的法律文件。2000年,全国人民代表大会常务委员会作出了《关于维护互联网安全的决定》,明确指出:利用互联网实施诽谤、敲诈勒索等行为,构成犯罪的,依照刑法有关规定追究刑事责任。在信息网络迅速发展,特别是互联网、通信网、广播电视传输覆盖网“三网合一”趋势明显的背景下,为统一法律适用,有必要对利用信息网络实施的诽谤、寻衅滋事、敲诈勒索、非法经营等犯罪作出司法解释,进一步明确具体的定罪量刑标准。

综上,《解释》的出台,有助于依法惩治当前社会各界普遍关注的利用信息网络实施的诽谤、寻衅滋事、敲诈勒索、非法经营等犯罪,顺应了新时期广大人民群众对依法惩治信息网络犯罪、规范信息网络秩序的普遍期待和迫切要求。

记者:“两高”在制定《解释》过程中,遵循了哪些基本原则?

负责人:《解释》是新形势下依法惩治利用信息网络实施的诽谤、寻衅滋事、敲诈勒索、非法经营等犯罪的重要法律文件。“两高”对此高度重视,非常审慎,经过为期一年多的调研,在全国范围内广泛征求了立法机关、行政机关、其他司法机关、专家学者和社会各界人士的建议,进行了认真的研究和论证,反复修改和完善,现在终于完成。总体上看,《解释》的内容符合立法精神和社会实际情况。在制定《解释》过程中主要遵循了以下原则。

第一,坚持罪刑法定原则,依法解释。《解释》严格依照刑法所规定的诽谤罪、寻衅滋事罪、敲诈勒索罪、非法经营罪等相关犯罪的构成要件,结合利用信息网络实施的上述犯罪的行为特征和实际危害,明确了定罪量刑的具体标准。各个条文均有明确的法律依据,符合罪刑法定基本原则,体现了依法解释的基本要求。同时,《解释》对相关犯罪“情节严重”的认定标准、共同犯罪的认定标准等也作出了明确规定,确保实践中严格依法办案。

第二,针对网络犯罪特点,系统解释。利用信息网络实施的诽谤等犯罪,只是诽谤罪等传统犯罪在网络时代的新型表现形式,比传统的诽谤等犯罪有更大的现实危害性。实践中,有人捏造损害他人名誉的事实并在信息网络上散布,诽谤他人;有人编造虚假信息,并在信息网络上散布,起哄闹事,扰乱公共秩序;有人以在信息网络上发布、删除等方式处理信息为由,对他人实施威胁、要挟,索取公私财物;还有一些所谓“网络公关公司”和“网络推手”,通过在信息网络上为编造的虚假信息提供发帖等服务,非法牟取经济利益,聚敛钱财,等等。诸如此类利用信息网络实施的犯罪,与采用传统手段实施的犯罪一样,也应当依照刑法有关规定定罪处罚。针对当前人民群众反映比较突出的利用信息网络实施的诽谤、寻衅滋事、敲诈勒索、非法经营等犯罪,《解释》根据刑法规定,结合上述犯罪社会危害的特点,进行系统化的解释,为依法打击上述犯罪提供了明确的法律依据,也为下一步深化信息网络犯罪立法积累了有益的经验。

第三,立足司法实际需求,科学解释。伴随着信息网络的发展和普及,近年来已经发生过一些利用信息网络诽谤他人或者实施敲诈勒索的案件,人民法院已按诽谤罪或者敲诈勒索罪进行了定罪处罚,取得了良好的法律效果和社会效果。因此,《解释》实际上是对司法实践经验的科学总结。在《解释》制定过程中,我们进行了充分调研,在确定相关犯罪的定罪量刑标准时,广泛征求了各方面的意见和建议,并进行了实证分析。《解释》的具体规定符合司法实际,具有较强的可操作性。

第四,注重教育宣传引导,充分发挥《解释》的作用。《解释》在制定过程中,坚持宽严相济的基本刑事政策,坚持打击利用信息网络实施的诽谤等犯罪与保护公民表达权和监督权并重,注重运用刑罚手段在预防、规范、教育、指引等方面的积极作用。《解释》立足当前实际,依法打击人民群众反映强烈的利用信息网络实施的相关犯罪,有助于促进相关部门加强对信息网络的日常管理,完善网络违法犯罪防范机制,教育广大网民自觉规范上网言行,达到“打击极少数,教育大多数”的良好社会效果。由此可见,《解释》为保护公民、法人和其他组织的合法权益,维护社会秩序,提供了强有力的法律保障。

记者:《解释》第一条至第三条明确了利用信息网络实施诽谤犯罪的哪些具体内容?实践中应当如何正确把握?

负责人:《解释》第一条至第三条分别规定了利用信息网络实施诽谤犯罪的行为方式、入罪标准、公诉条件等问题,是《解释》的重要内容。

第一,《解释》第一条分两款明确了利用信息网络实施诽谤犯罪的行为方式,即“捏造事实诽谤他人”的认定问题。具体包括三种行为方式:一是“捏造并散布”,即第一款第(一)项规定的捏造损害他人名誉的事实,在信息网络上散布,或者组织、指使他人在信息网络上散布的行为。二是“篡改并散布”,即第一款第(二)项规定的将信息网络上涉及他人的原始信息内容篡改为损害他人名誉的事实,在信息网络上散布,或者组织、指使人员在信息网络上散布的行为。三是“明知虚假事实而散布”,即第二款规定的明知是捏造的损害他人名誉的事实,在信息网络上散布,情节恶劣的行为,以“捏造事实诽谤他人”论。上述行为均反映出行为人具有捏造事实诽谤他人的主观故意,可以认定为诽谤罪的“捏造事实诽谤他人”。在“自媒体”时代,每个人都可以成为信息发布者和传播者,每个人都应当自觉遵守法律法规。信息网络不是“法外之地”,那些肆意捏造事实,恶意诽谤他人的行为人,应当依法承担相应的法律责任。

第二,《解释》第二条明确了利用信息网络实施诽谤行为的入罪标准。由于信息网络具有传播速度快以及网帖内容不易根除等特点,利用信息网络实施诽谤行为往往会造成严重的现实危害后果。《解释》第二条从诽谤信息被点击、浏览、转发的数量,诽谤行为造成的实际危害后果,诽谤行为人的主观恶性等方面,明确了利用信息网络实施诽谤行为的入罪标准。实践中,有的不法分子捏造损害他人名誉的事实,在信息网络上恶意散布,在短时间内点击量数以万计,传播甚快,流毒甚广,给被害人的工作、生活造成严重影响,甚至造成被害人精神失常等严重后果,应当依法以诽谤罪定罪处罚。

第三,《解释》第三条明确了利用信息网络实施诽谤犯罪适用公诉程序的条件。根据刑法规定,诽谤罪是自诉案件,但是“严重危害社会秩序和国家利益”的除外。《解释》第三条规定了引发群体性事件,引发公共秩序混乱,引发民族、宗教冲突,诽谤多人、造成恶劣社会影响,损害国家形象、严重危害国家利益,造成恶劣国际影响等七种情形,应当认定为“严重危害社会秩序和国家利益”,可以适用公诉程序,由公安机关立案侦查,检察机关提起公诉。对此类诽谤犯罪适用公诉程序,既符合刑法的规定,也是有效惩治利用信息网络实施诽谤犯罪的现实需要。各级司法机关要准确理解和把握上述几种情形,既要突出打击重点,依法惩治诽谤犯罪,又要贯彻宽严相济刑事政策,防止扩大打击面。

记者:《解释》第五条对利用信息网络编造、散布虚假信息,造成公共秩序严重混乱的行为规定按寻衅滋事罪定罪处罚,是出于什么考虑?

负责人:《解释》第五条第二款明确了利用信息网络编造、散布虚假信息,起哄闹事,造成公共秩序严重混乱的,依照寻衅滋事罪定罪处罚。当前,个别不法分子在信息网络上大肆捏造、散布虚假信息,其信息内容不指向特定自然人,而是以扰乱社会秩序为目的,危害公共利益。这种信息在网络上发布出去,很容易引发社会恐慌,造成公共秩序严重混乱。近期各地发生的多起群体性事件,多由不法分子编造虚假信息并在信息网络上散布所引发。

网络空间属于公共空间,网络秩序也是社会公共秩序的重要组成部分。随着信息技术的快速发展,信息网络与人们的现实生活已经融为一体,密不可分。维护社会公共秩序是全体网民的共同责任。一些不法分子利用信息网络恶意编造、散布虚假信息,起哄闹事,引发社会公共秩序严重混乱,具有现实的社会危害性,应以寻衅滋事罪追究刑事责任。

记者:《解释》第六条规定以在信息网络上发布、删除等方式处理网络信息为由,威胁、要挟他人,索取公私财物,数额较大,或者多次实施上述行为的,以敲诈勒索罪定罪处罚。此类犯罪有哪些具体表现形式?司法机关在办案过程中如何正确界定罪与非罪的界限?

负责人:《解释》第六条明确了利用信息网络实施敲诈勒索犯罪的认定标准。主要是针对当前一些不法分子在网站上发布涉及被害人或者被害单位的负面信息,或者上网收集与被害人、被害单位有关的负面信息,并主动联系被害人、被害单位,以帮助删帖、“沉底”为由,向被害人索取财物。此类犯罪的表现形式主要有两种,即:“发帖型”敲诈和“删帖型”敲诈,前者是以将要发布负面信息相要挟,要求被害人交付财物,后者则先在信息网络上散布负面信息,再以删帖为由要挟被害人交付财物。此类行为实质上是行为人以非法占有为目的,借助信息网络对他人实施威胁、要挟,被害人基于恐惧或者因为承受某种压力而被迫交付财物,符合敲诈勒索罪的构成要件,应当以敲诈勒索罪定罪处罚。

司法实践中,应当注意从两个方面正确界定罪与非罪的界限。一是要求行为人必须有主动向被害人、被害单位实施威胁、要挟并索要财物的行为。如果行为人不主动与被害人联系删帖事宜,未实施威胁、要挟,而是在被害人主动上门请求删帖的情况下,以“广告费”、“赞助费”、“服务费”等其他名义收取被害人费用的,不认定为敲诈勒索罪。二是本条使用了“信息”而非“虚假信息”的表述。行为人威胁将要在信息网络上发布涉及被害人、被害单位的负面信息即使是真实的,但只要行为人出于非法占有的目的,以发布、删除该负面信息为由勒索公私财物的,仍然构成敲诈勒索罪。

记者:《解释》第七条规定以营利为目的,通过信息网络有偿提供删除信息服务,或者明知是虚假信息而通过信息网络有偿提供发布信息等服务,扰乱市场秩序的,以非法经营罪定罪处罚。这一规定主要针对什么情况?司法实践中如何正确认定?

负责人:《解释》第七条明确了利用信息网络实施非法经营犯罪的定罪量刑标准。全国人民代表大会常务委员会《关于维护互联网安全的决定》、国务院《互联网信息服务管理办法》中,对通过互联网向上网用户提供信息服务活动作了明确规定。实践中,一些所谓的“网络公关公司”、“营销公司”、“网络推手”等以营利为目的,未经许可,在信息网络上向他人有偿提供删除信息服务,或者明知是虚假信息,通过信息网络向他人有偿提供发布信息等服务,此类行为违反了国家规定,扰乱了市场秩序,具有较大的社会危害性,应当以非法经营罪定罪处罚。

本条明确规定,通过信息网络向他人有偿提供发布信息等服务,构成非法经营罪,必须以行为人明知所发布的信息是虚假信息为前提。如果行为人不明知所发布的信息为虚假信息,即使收取了费用,也不认定为非法经营罪。但对于通过信息网络有偿提供删除信息服务,《解释》不要求行为人明知所删除的信息为虚假信息。当前一些非法“网络公关公司”的主要业务是“删帖”,所删除的信息相当一部分是人民群众发布的真实信息。国家依法保护信息网络用户正常的、合法的信息交流和服务活动,这也是网络信息服务市场秩序的重要组成部分。行为人有偿删除信息网络用户真实信息,侵犯了广大网民的合法权益,也严重破坏了网络信息服务市场秩序,符合非法经营罪犯罪构成,应当依法惩处。

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