Chinese authorities have approved a new set of comprehensive regulations that expand the scope of online censorship, emphasize the prohibition of 'negative' content and make platforms more liable for content violations.
China previously had very
detailed censorship laws laying out exactly what was banned and what part of the internet the rule applied to. The new Provisions on the Governance of the Online Information Content Ecosystem rationalises them into more general rules that apply to
the entire internet.
The new rules were approved in mid-December and will take effect in March. They apply to everyone and have noted that anyone who posts anything to the internet si to be considered a content producer.
Jeremy Daum, senior
fellow at the Yale Law School's Paul Tsai China Center notes that the new laws for what counts as illegal or now 'negative content' are quite vague. The document lays out what constitutes illegal content in sweeping terms. Content that undermines ethnic
unity or undermines the nation's policy on religions is forbidden, as is anything that disseminates rumors that disrupt economic or social order or generally harms the nation's honor and interests, among other rules.
The new regulations then go on to
dictate that content producers must employ measures to prevent and resist the making, reproduction or publication of negative information. This includes the following:
the use of exaggerated titles, gossip,
improper comments on natural disasters, major accidents, or other disasters,
anything with sexual innuendo or that is readily associated with sex, gore or horror,
or things that would
push minors towards behaviors that are unsafe or violate social mores.
Platforms are the ones responsible for policing all these restrictions, the rules say, and should establish mechanisms for everything from reviewing content and comments to real-time inspections to the handling of online rumors. They are to have
designate a manager for such activities and improve related staff.