Tuesday, September 23, 2014

On First Day of Hong Kong Student Class Boycott, Sina Weibo Censors "Boycott Classes"

As noted in this blog yesterday, as the date approached for students in Hong Kong to boycott classes in an attempt to force the central government to reconsider its recent decision on political reform, Sina Weibo began censoring "Hong Kong Boycott Classes" (香港 罢课).

These screenshots show that on September 22, 2014, the first day of the boycott, Sina Weibo began censoring searches for "Boycott Classes" (罢课).

These screenshots were taken on September 23, and show that Tencent was censoring searches for "Hong Kong Boycott Classes" but not "Boycott Classes," and Baidu had banned users from setting up a "PostBar" (Tieba 贴吧) forum on the topic of "Boycott Classes."


Sunday, September 21, 2014

On Eve of Student Strikes, Sina Weibo Censors "Hong Kong Boycott Classes"

On September 19, 2014, the state-sponsored China Daily published an editorial by Eddy Li, vice-president of the Chinese Manufacturers' Association of Hong Kong. An excerpt:
The ultimate objective of democratic development is social harmony and improving people's livelihoods. I have always believed Hong Kong's advantages made our city a better place to live and work in than many other places. These advantages include freedom of speech, low crime levels, a well-developed information system, transparent government officials, a modern health system, an excellent living environment, low tax rates, and a business-friendly environment. With all these advantages, Hong Kong is definitely capable of developing a democratic political system. 
At present, however, a small group of people from the "pan-democrat" camp threaten to launch class boycotts in schools and also the "Occupy Central" campaign. This is in an attempt to force the central government to reconsider its recent decision on political reform. But these actions will not help Hong Kong's constitutional development. On the contrary, they will only have a negative impact. If Hong Kong fails to achieve universal suffrage, then these people are to be blamed.
These screenshots show that at some time between September 18 and September 21, Sina Weibo began censoring search results for “Hong Kong Boycott Classes” (香港 罢课).




Thursday, September 11, 2014

New Rules Require Journalists to Sign Confidentiality Agreements

On June 30, 2014, the State Administration of Press, Publication  Radio, Film and Television (国家新闻出版广电总局) issued the “Measures on the Administration of Information Acquired by News Professionals in the Course of Business” (新闻从业人员职务行为信息管理办法). The Measures included the following provisions:
  • “News professionals may not, in violation the provisions of their confidentiality agreements, provide information obtained in the course of their business activities to overseas media outlets, or take on a position with an overseas media outlet such  as a "stringer," "correspondent," "contributor," or columnist.” (新闻从业人员不得违反保密协议的约定,向其他境内外媒体、网站提供职务行为信息,或者担任境外媒体的“特约记者”、“特约通讯员”、“特约撰稿人”或专栏作者等。)
  • “Any news professional who establishes a blog, micro-blog, weixin, etc. in their professional capacity must first register with, and obtain the approval of, their employer, which shall have the responsibility to maintain day-to-day oversight.” (新闻从业人员以职务身份开设博客、微博、微信等,须经所在新闻单位批准备案,所在单位负有日常监管职责。)
  • “News professionals may not, in violation of their confidentiality agreement, disclose or disseminate information obtained in the course of business either through any channels such as public or private blogs, micro-blogs, or wexin, or in any venues such as forums or lectures.” (新闻从业人员不得违反保密协议的约定,通过博客、微博、微信公众账号或个人账号等任何渠道,以及论坛、讲座等任何场所,透露、发布职务行为信息。)
On August 15, 2014, the state sponsored Paper published an article entitled "14 Central Government Media Outlets Sign Confidentiality Agreements with News Professionals" (中央14家主要新闻单位与新闻从业人员签署保密协议).  Some excerpts:
On July 9, a spokesperson for SAPPRFT was interviewed by Xinhua, and responded to outsiders' concerns regarding the Measures. The spokesperson noted that, first, with respect to information acquired in the course of business that is deemed to be state secrets, news professionals must comply with the China's "Law on the Protection of State Secrets" and related legislation. . . . Second, with respect to information acquired in the course of business that is deemed to be state secrets, news outlets must establish comprehensive unified administration systems and use confidentiality agreements to explicitly set forth the rights of news professionals with respect to information acquired in the course of business.
7月9日,总局相关负责人接受新华社记者专访,回应外界对这一管理办法的关注。该负责人指出,首先,职务行为信息中属于国家秘密的,新闻从业人员须遵守我国的《保守国家秘密法》等法律法规。. . . . 其次,不属于国家秘密的职务行为信息,新闻单位要建立统一管理制度,通过签订保密协议分类明确新闻从业人员职务行为信息的权利归属
This is the second time in two years the government has issues regulations restricting journalists’ interactions with social media and foreign media outlets. In April 8, 2013, SAPPRFT issued the "Notice Regarding Strengthening Management of Online Activities of News Editorial Personnel" (关于加强新闻采编人员网络活动管理的通知). That Notice stipulated:
  • "No news outlets may utilize overseas media or overseas website news information products without prior authorization." (未经批准,各类新闻单位均不得擅自使用境外媒体、境外网站的新闻信息产品).
  • "News editors must persist on encouraging unity and stability, and on the guiding principle of focusing on positive propaganda." (新闻采编人员要坚持团结稳定鼓劲、正面宣传为主的方针)
  • "Do not use or report Internet information that has not been verified through authoritative channels." (不引用、不报道未通过权威渠道核实的网络信息)
  • "News outlets may not provide information from news informants, commissioned authors, civil society organizations, or commercial groups on their news web sites without prior authorization." (未经核实,新闻单位所办新闻网站不得擅自发布新闻线人、特约作者、民间组织、商业机构等提供的信息)

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Citizens of Zhaoqing With Public Weixin Accounts Required to Register With Police

As previously noted on this blog, on August 7, 2014, the State Internet Information Office issued the “Interim Rules on the Development and Administration of Instant Messaging Tools and Public Information Services” (即时通信工具公众信息服务发展管理暂行规定). The Rules required providers of instant messaging tool services to verify the identity of anyone applying to operate an account that allows them to post information to the general public (as opposed to a private group of designated users); and to register anyone they approve to operate public accounts with “a government agency responsible for Internet information content.”

On August 8, 2014, in response to questions as to whether the new rule might be a tool to suppress freedom of speech, Xu Feng, head of mobile Internet management at the SIIO, said that it will promote the quality of instant messaging services to ensure that citizens enjoy the convenience of such services and called it the "true freedom of speech."

On July 29, 2014, the following notice appeared on the website of the Zhaoqing People's Government:
In order to strengthen guidance and oversight of speech on Weixin public accounts, all organizations and individuals in our city who have registered to use public Weixin accounts must make a filing with the government within 30 days.

This shall include those who have already opened Weixin public accounts, who must carry out their filing within 30 days, and those who open new accounts in the future, who must carry out their filing with 30 days of opening their account. The content of the filing shall include the basic status of the Weixin public account, as well as information about the user, contact information, etc.  Citizens may got to this website: http://jk.gpt.com.cn/Download/(61号), and download the "Weixin Public Account Registration Form," and submit a truthfully filled in form to the Internet Police Division of the Municipal Public Security Bureau (Address: Zhaoqing, Xinan Road, Traffic Police Department, 8th Floor), and may also submit an image or scan of the form in electronic format to wjzd56810@126.com (Phone: 2739682).

Anyone who has fails to carry out registration in accordance with the after notification shall be subject to sanction by public security agencies or the relevant functional agency in accordance with the "Administrative Measures on Safeguarding the Security of Computer Information Networks with International Connections."

记者7月28日从市网信办获悉,为加强对微信公众号的舆论指导和监管,我市范围内注册使用的各微信公众号使用单位和个人需在30日内进行备案。

其中,已开通微信公众号者需在30日进行备案,今后新开通者需在开通后30日内办理备案。备案内容包括微信公众号的基本情况和使用者资料、联系方式等。市民可登录网站http://jk.gpt.com.cn/Download/(61号),下载《微信号公众备案登记表》,如实填写后提交至市公安局网络警察支队(地址:肇庆市信安路交警支队大楼8楼),也可将表格电子文档附上证件资料的照片或扫描件发送至电子邮箱:wjzd56810@126.com(联系电话:2739682)。

对经督促仍不依法履行备案职责的,公安机关或相关职能部门将根据《计算机信息网络国际联网安全保护管理办法》等法律法规给相应处罚。
The document, entitled "Notice Regarding Strengthening Administratino of Our Municipality's Public Weixin Accounts" (关于加强我市微信公众号管理工作的通知) included a provision stating:
The Municipal Propaganda Bureau shall, in accordance with the "Rules on the Administration of Internet News Information Services," be responsible for carrying out oversight of all public accounts on Weixin that publish and post news information or convey current affairs and political information to the public, and shall severely punish anyone who takes it upon themselves to write news or post foreign media information without authorization.
市委宣传部按照《互联网新闻信息服务管理规定》,负责对在微信公众账号上发布涉及登载新闻信息、向公众发送时政类信息的行为进行监管,严厉打击违规自行采写新闻,登载境外媒体信息。

Friday, September 5, 2014

SIIO: New Instant Messaging Rules “Strict,” Represent “True Freedom of Speech”

On August 8, 2014, the state sponsored Global Times published an article entitled “New Rules for Social Media.” Some excerpts:
China on Thursday passed a new rule regulating public accounts on instant messaging services, requiring real-name registration for account operators in a bid to crack down on online rumors, libel and illegal information involving pornography and violence.
. . . .
In response to questions as to whether the new rule might be a tool to suppress freedom of speech, Xu Feng, head of mobile Internet management at the SIIO, said that it will promote the quality of instant messaging services to ensure that citizens enjoy the convenience of such services and called it the "true freedom of speech," according to an official Q&A provided by the Xinhua News Agency.
. . . .
Other than limiting who can post political news, the new rule does not really interfere with the platform's development, said Fang [Xingdong, founder of China's leading high-tech think tank chinalabs.com].
From the official Xinhua Q&A section entitled “Do the Rules Restrict Speech” (规定是否让言论受限?):
Jiang Jun (SIIO Spokesperson): The "Weixin Ten Articles" are relatively strict when it comes to publicly posting information, especially current events and political news. But with respect to ordinary users, it only requires they obey the "seven bottom lines," and they will enjoy ample freedom of speech based on these "seven bottom lines."
姜军(国家互联网信息办公室新闻发言人):“微信十条”对于向公众发布信息尤其是时政信息规定比较严格。但对于普通用户来讲,只提出要求遵守“七条底线”,在这“七条底线”之上享有充分言论自由。 
Xu Feng: The Internet space cannot become a space that is disorderly and filled with disharmony. There is not a single country in the world that allows the publication of rumors or information that is violent, fraudulent, pornographic or terrorizing. Freedom and order have a dialectical relationship, and every individual's freedom must be exercised within a legal scope, may not go beyond certain bottom lines, or hamper others' freedom." The watchwords of the issuance of the "Weixin Ten Articles" are "Bottom Line Thinking" and "Multi-faceted References," and this is beneficial for industry development, improving companies' services, better safeguarding the legal rights and interests of Internet users, and in this way true freedom will be realized.
徐丰:网络空间不能成为杂乱无序、充满戾气的空间。世界上任何一个国家都不允许谣言、暴力、欺诈、色情、恐怖信息传播。自由与秩序是辩证的关系,任何个人的自由必须在法律的范围内行使,不能突破底线,妨碍他人自由。“微信十条”出台的关键词是“底线思维”、“多元参考”,有利于行业发展,企业服务的提升,更好地维护广大网民的合法权益,是体现真正的自由。
The "seven bottom lines" are:
  1. Laws and Regulations
  2. The Socialist System
  3. The National Interest
  4. Citizens' Legal Rights and Interests
  5. Social Order
  6. Moral Norms
  7. Factual Information
Although it was listed third, the article stated:
The National Interest is to be placed above all others, because without the nation we have nothing. That is the way of the physical world, and even more so in the online world. We must forge an online patriotic culture, with the soul of online culture resting on the national interest.
国家利益高于一切,没有国家就没有我们的一切,现实世界如此,网络世界更如此,我们应该打造网络爱国主义文化,国家利益至上应该是网络文化的灵魂。
Regarding the socialist system, the article said:
This is our fundamental institution, this is a bottom line we cannot neglect, whether in real life on the Internet, we eat and live socialism. We cannot undermine ourselves.
这是我们的基本制度,这个底线不能丢,无论是现实中,还是网络上,我们吃的是社会主义的饭,过的是社会主义的生活,我们不能自己给自己掘墓。
The “Interim Rules on the Development and Administration of Instant Messaging Tools and Public Information Services” (即时通信工具公众信息服务发展管理暂行规定) apply to anyone “employing instant messaging tools as public information services,” and include the following provisions:
Providers of instant messaging tool services must require their users to:
  • register using their actual identity information; and
  • enter into an agreement whereby they commit to abide by the "seven bottom lines.”
In addition, providers of instant messaging tool services must:
  • verify the identity of anyone applying to operate an account that allows them to post information to the general public (as opposed to a private group of designated users); and
  • register anyone they approve to operate public accounts with “a government agency responsible for Internet information content.”
Finally, the rules provide that only government licensed “Internet News Information Services” may use their public accounts to post or repost “news relating to current events or politics.” All other public accounts are prohibited from publishing or republishing current events and political news unless otherwise authorized.
According to the “Rules on the Administration of Internet News Services” (互联网新闻信息服务管理规定) issued jointly by the State Council and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology in 2005, “news relating to current events or politics” (时政类新闻) is defined as including "reports and commentaries related to political, economic, military and diplomatic affairs as well as breaking events" (有关政治、经济、军事、外交等社会公共事务的报道、评论,以及有关社会突发事件的报道、评论).