26 October 2016
China is stepping up efforts to curb "harmful" content on the Internet. Photo: Bloomberg
China is stepping up efforts to curb "harmful" content on the Internet. Photo: Bloomberg

China regulator tightens oversight on Internet portals

China’s internet regulator has issued new rules under which it could summon company officials if their websites violate content regulations. 

Under the rules released by the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) on Tuesday, executives of online news and information portals will be summoned for questioning if it is deemed that their websites had published false information, pornography or circulated rumors.

Portals that do not address in a timeless manner any uncovered violations will also be summoned for talks with the regulator. The sites that fail to make changes after being summoned would be subject to fines, temporary suspensions or outright closure, Ming Pao Daily reported Wednesday.

Fan Li, an official in charge of online information services with the CAC, was quoted as saying at a press briefing Tuesday that the system does not conflict with penalties according to law.

The new system, instead, is aimed at prompting information providers to fix their problems more effectively, the official said.

In February and April, the CAC is said to have summoned top executives from two major portals, Netease and Sina, to urge them to correct their violations.

Lei Lili, a scholar at the Dalian University of Technology, was quoted as saying that it’s not advisable to take measures that circumvent the law although they may prove effective in the short term.

She noted that CAC has empowered itself with new rules, rather than authorized by law and regulations. Such system will be unfavorable for the regulated, Lei said.

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