State Internet Information Office Deploys Attack on Activities of Fabricating and Disseminating Rumours Online
Original SIIO documents in relation to this campaign have not been made public. This is a Xinhua press release from 2 May. The journalist understood from the State Internet Information Office on the 2nd that the State Internet Information Office is deploying a concentrated attack on activities of fabricating rumours on the Internet and wilful dissemination of rumours, on a nationwide level, recently, a certain Guizhou person named Li, as well as many other persons using the Internet to fabricate and disseminate rumours were investigated and prosecuted, a batch of microblog accounts fabricating and disseminating rumours were closed, and Public Security organs have imposed public order detention and other punishments. Read the rest of this entry »
On 12 April, “Red Flag Manuscripts”, a political theory journal run by the authoritative Party publication Seeking Truth, published an article written by Ren Xianliang, vice-chair of the All-China Journalists’ Association and vice-director of the Shaanxi Propaganda Department. It provides an interesting insight in the intra-official discourse on media governance issues and some of the opinions within the propaganda structure regarding the effect of social media.
How is the Party to Manage the Media Well in the New Era?
Comprehensively Planning Two Public Opinion Fields, Concentrating Positive Social Energy
In the China of today, two public opinion fields objectively exist, one is the traditional media public opinion field with Party papers, Party periodicals, Party stations and news agencies at the core, one is the new media public opinion field with the Internet as basis. The two public opinion fields’ central dissemination themes, appeals and expressions have been separated and opposed for a long time, which has not only directly challenged the baseline of the principle that the Party manages the media, but has also lead to the separation and confrontation of social strata, grave damage to government credibility and a corruption and weakening of the Party’s governance base.
Report concerning the Present Situation in the Ideological Area
The mainstream situation in the ideological area.
Since the 18th Party Congress, two plenary meetings have been successfully organized under the firm leadership of the Party Centre with Comrade Xi Jinping at the core, and the situation in all the undertakings of the Party and the State are good, the Party’s work style and the government work style bring a new atmosphere every day, the cohesion and centripetal force of the entire nation is further strengthening, self-confidence about the path, self-confidence about theory and self-confidence about the system has been further enhanced, and the mainstream of ideology is positive, healthy and upward. This is mainly reflected in: the spirit of the 18th Party Congress and a series of important speeches by General Secretary Xi Jinping greatly unified the thoughts of the entire Party and the people in the entire country, and the common ideological basis for united struggle is being incessantly consolidates; the new generation of collective Central leadership has rolled out a series of new measures to govern the country, it elaborated the Chinese Dream of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, it improved work styles, closely connected with the masses, rigorously enforced diligence and thrift, and opposed extravagance and waste, it expanded anti-corruption and pro honesty strength, gaining the praise and endorsement of the broad cadres and masses; it persist in making scientific development into the main theme, making the acceleration of transforming economic methods into the main thread, and making raising economic growth quality and productivity into the central task, economic development maintains favourable tendencies, which buoyed the people’s faith in the prospects for development; it strive to guarantee and improve the people’s livelihoods, rolling out new measures for the benefit and welfare of the people, and people yearn ever more for future beautiful lives; studying, propagating and implementing the spirit of the 18th Party Congress has been made into the primary political task on the propaganda, ideology and culture front, which rapidly aroused enthusiasm and provided deep guidance, the theme of the times and the main melody of Socialism with Chinese characteristics and the Chinese Dream have been sung, positive propaganda has been strengthened and expanded, guidance over profound issues has been strengthened and management of the ideological battlefield has been strengthened, stimulating ideological unity and cohesion of forces, creating a favourable atmosphere and providing spiritual strength for the realization of new developments in the undertakings of the Party and the country. Read the rest of this entry »
Notice concerning Strengthening the Management of Newsgathering and Editing Personnel’s Online Activities
In order to fully give rein to the positive function of the network and promote the shaping of a heathy news order, the State Administration of Press, Publications, Radio, Film and Television has recently issued the “Notice concerning Strengthening the Management of Newsgathering and Editing Personnel’s Online Activities”, requiring a strengthening of management over newsgathering and editing personnel using network information, setting up individual microblogs and other network activities. Read the rest of this entry »
Yesterday, the State Council published new draft regulations on the management of Internet information services. These are explicitly aimed at microblog platforms and related social media, following a week after the much-publicized Weibo User Pact took effect. On Tea Leaf Nation, David Wertime eloquently analyses the different aspects of the new document.
Despite the look of it, this not a sea change. The current law already assigns criminal liability to any service providers, broadly defined, who disseminate speech fitting any one of nine categories of harm. Moreover, Chinese authorities already exercise Internet control as they see fit, shutting down blogs and forums, occasionally arresting “bad actors,” and requiring Weibo, or China’s Twitter, to implement real-name registration.
Instead, it’s the message behind the law that matters, and the message to China’s social media is clear: We can shut you down. Providers of social media platforms will surely sweat when reminded by the State Council that their businesses merely exist at the pleasure of those in power. The law’s preamble now lists “protecting national safety and public interest” (维护国家安全和公共利益) as one of its objectives, and adds that which “incites illegal gatherings” (煽动非法聚集) to the category of illegal speech. This signals that Beijing is acutely aware of the potentially destabilizing power of China’s blogosphere.
I would add one more remark. By adding to the administrative burden of setting up and running Internet enterprises, the regime might endeavour to keep the number of players low. It is much easier controlling a small number of large visible enterprises than having to deal with large numbers of smaller companies. Hence, by making market access procedures more difficult, the administration puts up the pressure on social media enterprises to keep their side of the deal: permission to operate in return for toeing the political line.
I translated the draft document, as well as the accompanying explanations, and you can find them here.
Chapter I: General provisions
Article 1: In order to stimulate the healthy and orderly development of Internet information services, safeguard national security and the public interest, protect the lawful rights and interests of citizens and Internet information service providers, and standardize Internet information services activities, these Rules are formulated. Read the rest of this entry »
Explanation concerning the “Internet Information Service Management Rules (Opinion-Seeking Version of Revision Draft)
The existing “Internet Information Service Management Rules” (hereafter named the existing Rules) are the basic regulations for our country’s Internet management, and have had a vigorous function in the healthy and orderly development of our country’s Internet information service since promulgation in 2000. Following the rapid development of our country’s Internet, many new situations have emerged, a number of new problems are faced, in order to further stimulate the healthy and orderly development of the Internet, safeguard national security and the public interest, protect the lawful rights and interests of the public and Internet information service providers, standardize Internet information service activities, according to the Constitution and corresponding laws and regulations, the State Internet Information Office, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and other relevant departments have conducted revision of the existing Rules, and have formed the “Internet Information Service Management Rules (Opinion-Seeking Version of Revision Draft”. Hereby, the relevant matters are explained as follows: Read the rest of this entry »
Earlier this month, Sina published three documents aimed at establishing a new management structure for its Weibo services, which took effect a few days ago. These come in the wake of the much publicized struggle to establish a real name registration system for microblog services. They are the Sina Weibo Community Management Regulations (Trial), the Sina Weibo Community Pact (Trial), and the Sina Weibo Community Committee System (Trial). These three documents establish a structure with two main components: content requirements for Weibo posts and “community committee” structures to judge on cases violating these requirements. They distinguish between three sorts of prohibited content: harmful information, false information and user-dispute type content. The first category is dealt with by Sina itself, and two sorts of community committees corresponding to the latter two categories.
Harmful information refers to the usual suspects, including “sensitive information”, which endangers national and social security (which essentially repeats most of the content provisions present for the traditional media, and also includes spreading rumours), junk advertising, obscene and sexual information. False information refers to fabricating events or details thereof, exaggerating facts, quoting out of context, etc. User dispute-type content is content that violates matters related to individuals’ civil rights: privacy, reputation, harassment, copyright and passing off.
The interesting aspect of these regulations is the community committee aspect. There will be two sorts of committees, a “normal committee”, which will deal with user disputes, and an “expert committee” to handle issues relating to false information. These are relatively large, with up to 10000 members for the normal committee and 1500 members for the expert committee. Members for both committees selected from volunteer Weibo members, for a term of one year. The requirements for the normal committee are relatively low: being an adult real-name verified Weibo member for half a year, with one hundred posts and fifty fans. Requirement to become an expert committee are more stringent: members must openly publish their real name, and be expert scholars or media professionals.
Case procedures for both committees are similar: when a case is accepted, a web page file is opened where the parties concerned can make statements for a limited period of time. After this, the case is put forward to a select committee of members from the larger committees, who have a limited time to vote on the case and provide their opinion. If a quorum and a majority opinion are reached, the case is decided.
This is a very interesting and novel manner of dealing with this sort of cases, and – to my mind – not one that exists with the large Western media networks. In effect, this structure creates a self-governing body inside Weibo, as long as no sensitive information is involved. Of course, it remains to be seen how these mechanisms are operationalized, but they do have potential to engender very interesting developments within the sphere of social media regulation. In particular, the expert committee will have their work cut out with dealing with false information, and this is where there may be an interesting overlap with alleged harmful information. What if information is harmful, but true as well? At the same time, there are some concerns: perhaps this may result in piecemeal and ad hoc decision-making, rather than the development of a consistent code of online behaviour. In any case, I am looking forward to seeing the first cases roll out and find out how these things work.
In order to establish a harmonious, rule of law and healthy network environment, safeguard the order of the Sina Weibo community, and even better guarantee the lawful rights and interests of users, Sina Weibo has formulated this Pact together with users. Read the rest of this entry »
Chapter I: General provisions
Article 1: In order to safeguard Sina Weibo community order, even better guarantee users’ lawful rights and interests, The Sina Weibo Community Management Centre (hereafter designated as “the Web Site”), has formulated this System according to the “Sina Weibo Community Pact “Trial”). Read the rest of this entry »
Chapter I: General provisions
Article 1: In order to safeguard the order of the Sino Weibo community, even better guarantee the lawful rights and interests of users, Sina Weibo Community Management Centre (hereafter designated as “the Web Site” has formulated these Regulations on the basis of existing laws and regulations and the “Sina Weibo Community Pact (Trial)”. Read the rest of this entry »
Following the rapid development of information and telecommunications technology, the Internet has become an important platform for the expression of the popular will, and has a positive influence on the economy, politics, culture, and the people’s lives and production. At the same time, it should be noted that harmful and untrue information still exists online, which influences the healthy development of society, especially the communication of online rumours recently has become a major social nuisance, which gravely harms citizens’ rights and interests, harms the public interests and endangers national security and social stability. Jointly resisting rumours and creating a healthy and civilized online environment have become problems attracting the common concern of all walks of society. In order to resist online rumours and create a healthy and civilized online environment, and to promote the healthy and sustainable development of the Internet sector, the Internet Society of China puts forward the following proposals to the Internet circles of the entire country. Read the rest of this entry »
The real-name registration system for microblogs announced earlier will take effect on 16 March, but already, Sina has started to see a decline in user numbers, as protested by Weibo CEO Cao Guowei. Also, Twitter user mcxiaoke posted a number of other requirements in an implementation notice that has apparently been circulated to microblog furms. I haven’t found this original document yet (any tips are welcome), so I can’t vouch for the source, but here is the translation of the twitter posts.
The canopy of the real-name system is going to come down, let’s quickly flee domestic microblog services, the real-name system implementation notice requires: information posted by microblog users with more than 100.000 followers must be examined and verified item by item, and a system of examination before posting is instituted; information posted by blacklisted users must be examined and verified item by item, and a system of examination before posting is instituted; information indicated to be unlawful must be deleted within five minutes; technological interfaces must be opened for search engines specially used by public security organs; screening or filtering measures for specific keywords must take effect within ten minutes; a “one-keystroke delete” function must be provided concerning specific text, images, videos or links; control functions for reprint and comment on information from specific users or in specific microblogs must be provided, control functions must be provided for information posted from specific regions, specific IP addresses or specific sources; a 24/7 information inspection system must be established, a complete function to cease all individual even posting must be provided; user registration information must be preserved long-term, user log-in information must be preserved for one year, client software or mobile phone registration telephones are to be used to distinguish mobile telephone serial number information; daily record information must be provided to public security organs in real time, advance evaluation and consultation systems must be set up with public security organs.
In order to do filing inspection work for cases involving Internet management well in the future, hereby, the relevant issues are notified as follow:
I, The scope of cases involving Internet management
Cases involving Internet management include civil disputes and administrative disputes triggered because of network management. Civil disputes mainly are manifested as disputes triggered by the deletion of articles, speech as well as websites, etc., that the plaintiff published on the network by websites on the basis of requirements of relevant departments, or closure of plaintiffs’ blogs, forums, post bars, websites, etc. The majority of plaintiffs file a lawsuit on the basis of the network service contract they concluded with websites, and the fact that that the website deleted these persons’ articles or closed websites unilaterally, without their agreement or without notifying them. Administrative disputes mainly are manifested as lawsuits raised because plaintiffs do not agree with administrative punishment decisions or punishment acts by corresponding management departments to delete the articles or speech the plaintiff publishes online or close the plaintiff’s blog, websites, etc. Read the rest of this entry »
People’s Republic of China State Council Decree (No. 292)
The “Internet Information Service Management Rules” were passed on 20 September at the 31st General Meeting of the State Council, and are hereby promulgated and implemented.
Premier: Zhu Rongji
25 September 2000 Read the rest of this entry »