China’s Strict Online Defamation Policy

China's strict online defamation lawsChina’s strict online defamation standards just got stricter. What’s the big change? As of this week, individuals can land in jail, for up to three years, over a single act of online defamation.

China’s Strict Online Defamation Policies: Exposure Parameters

China’s strict online defamation law includes exposure parameters. For a statement to be actionable, 5,000 people must have laid their eyes on it. That, or the statement must be re-posted over 500 times or cause “the subject to hurt themselves, commit suicide or ‘experience a mental disorder.’”

Is Political Criticism In Jeopardy?

Detractors of China’s strict online defamation policy say it only serves to silence government detractors. Since the nation’s newspapers, radio and television stations are state-owned, some people see the Internet as the only outlet for political criticism. Proponents, however, insist the law is needed and point to several Chinese lawmakers who’ve been convicted and jailed for corruption exposed online (i.e., “we’re not trying to silence anybody!”).

Doug Young, author of “The Party Line: How the Media Dictates Public Opinion in Modern China,” opined that China’s strict online defamation laws “will make people think twice, especially people with lots of followers, before going public with sloppily sourced news.”

Beijing-based civil rights attorney, Pu Zhiqiang, warned, “Authorities in the future could selectively use this tool to punish people” but he also questions whether there is enough room in the jails to imprison all gossip-mongers.

In a country with nearly 591 million netizens, we’re bound to see some high-profile Internet libel cases coming out of China, from here on out.

Read More About Slander and Libel Laws From Around The World

Interested in defamation laws from around the world? Then head on over to our International Defamation Law Database.