He Weifang: Challenges to the Judiciary in the Age of the Internet

ChinaGeeks translates an essay by law professor He Weifang about “the difficult relation between the power of the internet and the judiciary system”:

First of all, administering the internet is simply not like regulating the traditional media. Every second there is a steady flow of different opinions pouring in, like a circle of life that can’t be stopped in its course. Deletion will stay an incomplete and insufficient option. Moreover, what kind of “opinion” should be deleted or not be deleted? Since adequate regulations can hardly be set beforehand, [these decisions] will be left to the obscure judgment of various departments. But different interpretations of the pronounced standards can easily lead to a severe imbalance in the amount [of information] deleted. Under the pressure of finding offences, the responsible administrators instinctively tend to be overtly strict when it comes to closing [sites], with a result that will most likely rather resemble “a massacre and slaughter of the innocent at will”.

But wiping out valuable discourses will turn the internet – a place that should be full of vitality – into a desolate wasteland. And in such an environment the supervision of the judiciary trough the media will inevitably become a meaningless phrase. But, as stated earlier, without supervision an impartial judicature cannot exist. So in the end it will be the same restrictions imposed on the freedom of speech that were originally intended to reduce the pressure on the judiciary that will ultimately lead to an even more unjust system. You could say it “started as a nobleman, but ended like a crook”.

The bottom line is: The root of the problem does not lie in the popular will itself, but in the lack of judiciary independence.

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