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)

Translation: Xu Zhiyong's Statement in His Own Defense

 Source: China Digital Times: On April 10, 2023, Xu Zhiyong, a well-known human rights de...