The Standing Committee of China’s National People’s Congress has issued new rules “to enhance the protection of personal information online and safeguard public interests”. The regulations broaden and reinforce requirements for real-name registration by internet users (though pseudonyms will still be permitted), and establish a legal requirement for service providers to immediately remove illegal information and report it to the relevant authorities. The move follows evident recent activity on the technical front, and has widely been read as an omen for the new Party leadership’s future rule. From Rob McBride at Al Jazeera English:
The rules had been heralded by a series of editorials in state media, including one from People’s Daily Online which framed the issue of internet regulation in terms of rule of law. From David Bandurski’s translation at China Media Project:
The internet is public space, and public order and good customs require the common efforts of web users, demanding that each web users “purify themselves” (自我净化), recognizing from the bottom of their hearts that the internet is not a utopia where they can do as they please, that it is not a “Garden of Peaches of Immortality” [i.e., a paradise] existing outside the law. But on this massive platform comprising 538 million web users and more than a billion mobile users, it is impossible byrelying on self-discipline alone to achieve regulation and order (规范有序) and to eliminate every single person with ulterior motives (别有用心者) or every doer of mischief (恶作剧者).
Without wings, the bird of freedom cannot fly high. Without rule of law, a free internet cannot go far. Today’s society reveres rule of law, and just as our actual society needs rule of law, so does our virtual society need rule of law. Cleaning up the online world demands the self-discipline of web users, but
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