Table of Contents

Comment Icon0 With a blur distinction between politics and civil law, one of the most effective defences in China’s Internet security strategy has been the use of bureaucratic regulations that favor the incumbent government. Typically, such regulations are used to shape the market environment and to incentivize participants towards promoting the state’s interest. The Chinese government first passed regulations covering online activities in 1994, and has since followed up with 37 laws and regulations to reinforce their control of the Internet. Free-speech advocacy group, Reporters Sans Frontieres, called these new rules the “11 commandments of the Internet” since they felt they “simply repeat that the party has the monopoly of the dissemination of information and that the media’s task is not to be objective but to relay state propaganda”. Comparing the “11 commandments” with Article 15 of the “Measures for the Administration of Internet Information Services”, one will observe that the new article updates the previous nine items with two new ones, which may be intended for frequently-updated content produced by bloggers and website managers. Issued by the State Council on 7 November 2000, the rules on the Administration of Internet News Information Services (RAINIS) govern all Internet-based “news information”. Essentially, this bans the dissemination of news based on 11 rules:

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  2. Information that goes against the basic principles set in the Constitution;
  3. Information that endangers national security, divulges state secrets, subverts the government, or undermines national unification;
  4. Information that is detrimental to the honor and interests of the state;
  5. Information that instigates ethnic hatred or ethnic discrimination, or that undermines national unity;
  6. Information that undermines the state’s policy for religions, or that preaches evil cults or feudalistic and superstitious beliefs;
  7. Information that disseminates rumours, disturbs social order, or undermines social stability;
  8. Information that disseminates pornography and other salacious materials; that promotes gambling, violence, homicide and terror; or that instigates the commission of crimes;
  9. Information that insults or slanders other people, or that infringes upon other people’s legitimate rights and interests; and
  10. Information prohibited by the law or administrative regulations.

Comment Icon0 As of 25 September 2005, two completely new bans were added to the nine rules above:

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  2. It is forbidden to encourage illegal gatherings, strikes, etc to create public disorder; and
  3. It is forbidden to organize activities under illegal social associations or organizations.

Comment Icon0 Over time, Chinese authorities have continued to issue rules and regulations in response to perceived Internet-based challenges to the regime. For instance, in September 2001, authorities temporarily shut down a popular BBS hosted by the Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan, after students posted articles about the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown (“Student Net Site Closed”, 2001). The Baiyun Huanghe bulletin board site (bbs.whnet.edu.cn) was reopened after the university’s Communist Party Committee expunged the messages about the Tiananmen crackdown, replaced student webmasters, and required all users posting messages to register under their real names. By 20 October 2005, the “system of real name registration” went into effect across the BBS of eight universities, causing a stir among the various student populations (EastSouthWestNorth, 2005). The BBS real name system can be simply described as requiring the netizens to register with their real personal information before they can express themselves on the Internet. To appreciate the magnitude of this effect on these BBS’s, the two most popular ones include the Huazhong University of Science and Technology’s Beiyunhuanghe BBS and Wuhan University’s Luojiashanshui BBS.  At any one time, the Beiyunhuanghe BBS played host to two to three thousand people online. Within this influential BBS, there are more than 210 diverse sections, including school administration, lecture notices, science, technology and the arts. Everyday, to help participants take in the massive traffic of news, the 10 hottest subjects are presented.

Comment Icon0 In addition to regulating discussions over BBS, Beijing also enforced regulations in November 2000 that required popular news portals like Sohu.com and Sina.com to carry only news content that has been approved by state-run media organs. Extending the responsibilities of the ISPs, the Ministry of Information Industry announced in January 2002 new regulations requiring ISPs to maintain detailed records about their users, install software to record email messages sent and received by their users, and send copies of any emails that violate PRC law to the appropriate Chinese government departments (“China Sets New Net Rules,” 2002). While intimidation through regulations, loss of business and network licenses, as well as the threat of arrest seem sufficient, Beijing still makes it a point to remind Chinese netizens of their presence in order to instill the broad sense of self-censorship.

Chapter 5.2.1 – Laws: Declaration of Internet Regulations

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