Microblogging Law: China Extends Control Over Digital Chatter

microblogging law in China explained
In 2012, the Chinese government passed a strict microblogging law. Ostensibly in service of the country’s Golden Shield Project, China now requires all microblog operators to obtain an operational license. Additionally, the regulation considers forum and blog operators as information service providers (ISPs).

The Golden Shield Project

Microblogging laws in China are no joke. The country’s “Golden Shield Project”  employs about 30,000 “Internet police officers” who spend their days purging the Web of “offensive” material and initiating legal actions against folks who break the nation’s 60-plus online conduct regulations.

A Sampling Of China’s Online Communication Standards & Microblogging Laws

  • Limits on communication with foreign political or social groups are enforced.
  • Online petitions are highly discouraged.
  • Talk of government corruption is heavily monitored.
  • Posting statements in support of a government coup or division in the country is  against the law.
  • Inciting hatred or discrimination is against the law.
  • Promoting the disruption of the “order of society” is against regulations.
  • Spreading rumors (yáo yán) or conjecture is not allowed.
  • Promoting sex, gambling, violence, murder, and feudal superstitions can get you in trouble.
  • Linking to overseas news outlets or distributing overseas news without official approval is frowned upon.
  • Chinese citizens use a stripped-down version of Google and are blocked from Twitter, Facebook and Technorati. Yahoo! Taiwan and Yahoo! Hong Kong are also off-limits.

Microblogging: A Favorite Pastime

Considering China’s strict Internet laws, you’d think blogging wouldn’t be a huge part of the country’s youth culture.

Wrong.

In actuality, China’s tweens, teens, and twenty-somethings are as into blogging as their American counterparts are into reality television and social media. As someone on reddit.com put it, “Chinese students put EVERYTHING about their lives on the Internet.” And just like their Western counterparts, Chinese kids have a favorite social networking website – Sina Weibo. A cross between Facebook and Twitter, Sina Weibo, is hugely popular microblogging platform.

In accordance with nation-wide statutes, Sina Weibo employees a 1,000-person monitoring team. Nevertheless, it’s still considered one of the “freer” online platforms in China.

But that may be about to change since China’s new Internet laws seem to target Sina Weibo.

China’s New Internet Laws Aimed At Eradicating Anonymity on The Web

The primary purpose of China’s new Internet laws is to eradicate anonymity from the web. (Hey, I wonder if that New York Assemblymen got the idea for his bill from the Chinese government?)

The updated statutes stipulate that platforms, like Sina Weibo, must be granted administrative licenses to run their services. Presumably, the license will come with a list of content stipulations.

Moreover, the new Internet laws in China make it illegal for users to sign-up using pseudonyms or fake names.

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Kelly / Warner handles Internet and microblogging law issues with clients in the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, South America, the Middle East, and Asia To learn more about our top-rated firm, start here.