Search Engines Sign a Self-Discipline Pledge (2012 Edition)
On November 1, 2012, the Internet Society of China announced that Baidu, Qihoo, Sogou, Tencent, Netease, Sina, and other China-based websites had signed a "Internet Search Engine Services Self-Discipline Pledge." (Full Chinese text and my English translation below)
About once every couple of years China-based websites sign some kind of self-discpline pledge. In 2009, a similar group signed a similarly-titled "Commercial Search Engine Services Self-Discipline Pledge." (Full Chinese text and my English translation below)
In 2010 many of the same companies signed a "'Hongyan Declaration," and pledged to enable "positive and healthy red Internet cultural products to take a leading position online." (see here: http://blog.feichangdao.com/2012/10/blast-from-past-2010-bo-xilai-praises.html)
The 2012 Internet Search Engine Services Self-Discipline Pledge
Article 1. This Pledge is formulated in order to regulate Internet search engine services, safeguard the legal rights and interests of Internet users, uphold fair competition and a rational and orderly market environment, and promote the healthy and continued development of China Internet search engine industry.
Article 2. As used in this Pledge, Search engine services refers to Internet services providers operating dedicated computer programs providing users services to carry out online information inquiries by keywords and other search methods.
Article 3. This Pledge applies members of the Internet Society of China and other Internet operators who voluntarily participate in the "China Internet Industry Self-Discipline Pledge," and advocates that other industry members actively abide by its provisions.
Article 4. Internet search engine service providers should abide by the basic principles of legality, credibility, fairness, impartiality, and objectivity, and should comply with the spirit of an open, fair, cooperative, and sharing Internet, and should actively safeguard national interests, public interests, and industry interests, and respect the legal rights and interests of rights-holders.
Article 5. Strictly abide by national laws, regulations, rules, and policies, develop Internet search engine services in accordance with the law, voluntarily obey industry Pledges and rules, active participate in Industry self-discipline, and work diligently to create a healthy and orderly Internet search engine service environment.
Article 6. Voluntarily implement the provisions of the "Internet Search Engine Service Business Boycott Obscenity, Pornography, and other Illegal and Harmful Information Self-Discipline Pledge," and resolutely oppose the transmission of obscene or pornographic and other illegal and harmful information through search engines, and actively build a healthy, civilized, and progressive Internet search engine transmission order.
Article 7. Abide by accepted international industry practices and commercial principles, and respect robots.txt agreements.
Robots.txt agreements refers to the robots.txt files used by websites which are agreements instructing web robots.
Web robots (also referred to as network tourists, crawler programs, and spider programs) are programs that automatically crawl websites. Search engines use these programs to search website content, spam senders use Web robots to scan and obtain email addresses, and web robots have many other uses.
Article 8. When setting up robots.txt files, website owners should abide by the principles of fairness, openness, and the free flow of information, and restrictions on search engine crawling should be based on reasons commonly recognized in the industry as reasonable and appropriate, and robots.txt files should not be used to engage in unfair competition, and an innovative, fair, just, and positive competition environment should be actively encouraged.
Article 9. Respect and safeguard intellectual property, respect the legal rights and interests of rights holders, and actively boycott piracy and other infringing activities. With respect to content that was obtained in violation of robots.txt files prior to the announcement of this agreement, upon receipt of a legally compliant notice from a rights holder such content will be timely deleted, infringing links removed, and efforts will be made to maintain a healthy and orderly Internet environment.
Article 10. Search engine service providers have a duty to assist in protecting users' private and personal information security, and upon receipt of a legally compliant notice from a rights holder should timely delete and remove links to infringing content.
Article 11. Pursue fair and rational competition, boycott unfair competition behavior, safeguard fair, open, competitive and orderly market order, and actively create a market environment with equal participation, rational competition, and continued development.
Article 12. Encourage technological and commercial innovation, improve search services, optimize search results, conserve Internet resources, cultivate and uphold industry ecological systems for innovative dynamism, open win-win, and positive cycles.
Article 13. Strengthen social responsibility, increase self-restraint, establish effective channels of reporting complaints, actively accept social oversight, and timely discover and improve service inadequacies, voluntarily regulate enterprise operating behavior of Internet search engine services.
Article 14. The Internet Society of China Self-Discipline Working Committee shall be the implementing agency of this Pledge, and shall be responsible for organizing the signing and implementation of this Pledge, and shall publicize relevant national policies, laws, and regulations to the signatories.
Article 15. Signatories shall voluntarily abide by all provisions of this Pledge, and where violations of this Pledge have harmful effects, any company or individual shall have the right to report it to the implementing agency. After the implementing agency conducts an investigation or organizes a review it shall, based on the circumstances, give an internal warning or make public censure in the national mainstream media.
Article 16. When a controversy or dispute occurs between signatories, they should, in accordance with the principle of safeguarding the overall interests of the industry, and strive to resolve the situation in a mutually agreeable manner through consultation. They may also request the implementation agency for this Pledge to conduct mediation, and the implementation agency for this Pledge shall have the duty to rapidly undertake mediation work in a reasonable fashion, and report the results of the mediation to the relevant bodies. If it is not possible to reach a resolution through commercial mediation, then it may propose suggestions to the relevant administrative agencies.
Article 17. This Pledge shall become effective after it has been signed by two-thirds of the sponsoring companies, and shall be publicized by the Internet Society of China.
Article 18. This Pledge adheres to the principle of "gradually improve as circumstances change," and the implementing agency for this Pledge may undertake to revise this pledge upon a proposal of 1/3 of the signatories and approval by 2/3
of the signatories.
Article 19. All Internet search engine service providers who accept the self-discipline provisions of this Pledge may sign this Pledge. Signatories may withdraw from this Pledge, and shall notify the implementing agency for this Pledge in writing. The implementing agency for this Pledge shall publicize the signatories and those who have withdrawn at regular intervals.
Article 20. The implementing agency for this Pledge shall assemble Internet search engine service enterprises to hold research conferences to discuss the implementation provisions for this Pledge and any matters that may easily lead to disputes. For those matters where there is consensus, they shall be publicly announced as supplemental provisions by the Internet Society of China and signatories shall abide by them together. Where a consensus cannot be achieved, the implementing agency for this Pledge shall organize a vote by the Internet search engine service enterprises based on the principles of openness, fairness, and impartiality, and the result of the vote shall serve as a major basis for the the implementing agency for this Pledge to submit opinions for addressing the issue to relevant administrative agencies.
Article 21. The Internet Society of China Industry Self-Discipline Working Group shall be responsible for interpreting this Pledge.
Article 22. This Pledge shall be implemented from the day of its publication.
The 2009 Commercial Search Engine Services Self Discipline Pledge
Article 1. This Pledge has been formulated in order to promote the healthy development of Internet search engine businesses and to restrain the dissemination of pornographic and other illegal and harmful information through search engines.
Article 2. Commercial search engine services should abide by the basic principles of obeying the law and acting credibly, and take as their starting point the protection of social morals and safeguarding the physical and mental wellbeing of children and the overall interests of the industry in voluntarily obeying relevant national laws, regulations, and policies and devoting themselves to building a healthy, civilized, and safe Internet search environment.
Article 3. Do not employ any means to proactively disseminate, aggregate, or link to any website or web page with obscene, pornographic or otherwise illegal or harmful content.
Article 4. Do not provide any network services for any website or web page with obscene, pornographic or otherwise illegal or harmful content through search navigation, advertising, ranking, access, or other methods.
Article 5. Do not establish any cooperative relationship with any illegal website.
Article 6. Adopt forceful technical measures to block illegal and harmful information.
Article 7. Have the duty to report to the government executive administration and law enforcement agencies any website discovered to contain illegal or harmful information.
Article 8. Accept the oversight of the media and the public, perfect [do an outstanding job of creating] mechanism for the timely handling of issues, carry out immediate investigation as soon as a report is received, and upon confirmation, immediate deletion.
Article 9. The Beijing Internet Media Association and the Beijing Internet News Information Advisory Council shall have responsibility for the oversight and implementation of this Pledge.
Article 10. This Pledge shall become effective upon the day of issue.
新浪 搜狐 网易 百度 中搜 中国雅虎 奇虎