Some Chinese netizens had hoped that the harsh clampdown on the internet launched before the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) 19th National Congress would die down after the Congress was closed, just like the routine clampdowns surrounding certain “sensitive” dates (such as every June 4). Unfortunately, the reality seems to be the opposite: days after the 19th Party Congress closed, China issued new regulations to further regulate the internet.
On October 30, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) — China’s top internet censor — released two regulations: one on managing online media employees and the other on new internet technology for news websites. Both regulations will become effective on December 1.
In terms of “online media employees,” the CAC said these employees include all the content providers or managers for websites, applications, platforms, blogs, microblogs, public accounts, instant-messaging apps, and video streaming — every form that can provide information online.
The regulation demands that all these “online media employees” should be trained by CAC’s local office for at least 40 hours every three years, and by affiliated online media organizations for at least 40 hours every year, which must include “at least 10 hours [of training] on the Marxist view of journalism.”
The CAC will also establish a credit file and a blacklist for these “online media employees.” Those employees who fail to “follow the correct political guidance, implement the party and the state’s policy on news and public opinion, maintain the national interests, and promote a health and positive online culture” will face punishment including consultations, warning notices, termination of employment, and being placed on the CAC’s blacklist.
A spokesperson for the CAC explained that the Chinese authorities issued the regulation since “the lack of training and unsatisfactory professional abilities of online media employees have resulted in some inappropriate reporting behavior and illegal information published on some websites, which polluted the network and harmed the public interest.”
While the regulations have already placed all “online media employees” under the government’s grip, the Chinese authorities aim to further control the fast-developing internet in one strike. The other regulation issued by the CAC on the same day deals with new internet technology for news websites.
The regulation demands that all internet service providers should establish a “security assessment system” on new technologies and internet applications so that no new technologies can be or will be used to publish or spread information forbidden by law and regulations.
The security assessment system will examine the risk level of these new technologies and internet applications for their ability to “shape public opinion and social mobilization,” according to the regulation.
In explaining the motive for releasing this regulation, the spokesperson of the CAC said:
The internet’s booming new applications and new technologies have brought great opportunities for the country’s economic and social development… But at the same time, new technologies such as social networks, personal media, instant messaging tools, [and] search engines have been used by some unlawful people as a tool for spreading and publishing illegal information and conducting cyber criminal activities…[There is an] is in urgent need for the service providers to improve measures for information security.