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UPDATED: June 9, 2010
Full Text: The Internet in China


IV. Basic Principles and Practices of Internet Administration

China adheres to scientific and effective Internet administration by law, strives to improve an Internet administration system combining laws and regulations, administrative supervision, self-regulation, technical protection, public supervision and social education. The basic goals of China's Internet administration are to promote general and hassle-free Internet accessibility, and sustainable and healthy development, guarantee citizens' freedom of speech online, regulate the order of Internet information transmission, promote the positive and effective application of the Internet, create a market environment for fair competition, guarantee the citizens' rights and interests vested in the Constitution and law, and guarantee safety for Internet information and state security.

China regulates the Internet by law. Since 1994 China has enacted a series of laws and regulations concerning Internet administration, including the Decision of the National People's Congress Standing Committee on Guarding Internet Security, Law of the People's Republic of China on Electronic Signatures, Regulations on Telecommunications of the People's Republic of China, Measures on the Administration of Internet Information Services, Regulations on the Protection of Computer Information System Security of the People's Republic of China, Regulations on the Protection of the Right to Online Dissemination of Information, Provisions on the Administration of Foreign-funded Telecommunications Enterprises, Measures on the Administration of Security Protection of the International Networking of Computer Information Networks, Provisions on the Administration of Internet News Information Services, and Provisions on the Administration of Electronic Bulletin Services via the Internet, among others. Relevant provisions of the Criminal Law of the People's Republic of China, General Principles of the Civil Law of the People's Republic of China, Copyright Law of the People's Republic of China, Law of the People's Republic of China on the Protection of Minors, Law of the People's Republic of China on Punishments in Public Order and Security Administration and other laws are applicable in the case of Internet administration.

China adheres to rational and scientific law-making, and reserves space for Internet development. Relevant laws and regulations pertaining to basic Internet resource management, information transmission regulation, information security guarantee and other key aspects define the responsibilities and obligations of basic telecommunication business operators, Internet access service providers, Internet information service providers, government administrative organs, Internet users and other related bodies. The citizens' freedom and privacy of correspondence is protected by law, which stipulates at the same time that while exercising such freedom and rights, citizens are not allowed to infringe upon state, social and collective interests or the legitimate freedom and rights of other citizens. No organization or individual may utilize telecommunication networks to engage in activities that jeopardize state security, the public interest or the legitimate rights and interests of other people.

The Chinese government plays the leading role in Internet administration. Relevant government bodies, according to their statutory duties, safeguard Chinese citizens' rights and interests, public interests and state security by law. The state telecommunications administration department is responsible for the administration of the Internet industry, including the administration of basic resources of the Internet such as domain names, IP addresses within China. Abiding by the Measures on the Administration of Internet Information Services, the state practices a licensing system for commercial Internet information services and a registration system for non-commercial Internet information services. According to the Measures, state press, publication, education, health and other administrative departments practice licensing systems for "Internet information services concerning press, publication, education, medical care, medicines and medical instruments." Public security organs and other state law-enforcement agencies bear the responsibility for Internet security supervision and administration, and investigate and punish all types of network crimes.

The state proactively promotes industry self-regulation and public supervision. The Internet Society of China (ISC) was founded in May 2001. It is a national organization of the Internet industry with a remit for serving the development of that industry, netizens and the decisions of the government. The ISC has issued a series of self-disciplinary regulations, including the Public Pledge of Self-regulation and Professional Ethics for the China Internet Industry, Provisions of Self-regulation on Not Spreading Pornographic and Other Harmful Information for Internet Websites, Public Pledge of Self-regulation on Anti-malicious Software, Public Pledge of Self-regulation on Blog Service, Public Pledge of Self-regulation on Anti-Internet Virus, Declaration of Self-regulation on Copyright Protection of China's Internet Industry, and other regulations, which greatly promote the healthy development of the Internet. The ISC makes unremitting efforts to counter spam, reducing the global spam percentage of Chinese e-mails from 23% in 2002 to 4.1% in 2009. In order to strengthen public supervision of Internet services, the state has established the China Internet Illegal Information Reporting Center (CIIRC), Network Crimes Reporting Website, 12321 Harmful and Spam Internet Information Reporting and Reception Center, 12390 Pornography Crackdown and Press and Publication Copyright Joint Reporting Center and other public reporting and reception organizations since 2004. The Society issued the Measures for Encouraging the Reporting of Pornographic and Vulgar Information on the Internet and Mobile Media in January 2010. The Chinese government will further support the work of Internet industry self-disciplinary organizations, provide services to facilitate the organizations' roles and protect the public's legitimate rights to online reporting of illegal information and acts.

China advocates the rational use of technology to curb dissemination of illegal information online. Based on the characteristics of the Internet and considering the actual requirements of effective administering of the Internet, it advocates the exertion of technical means, in line with relevant laws and regulations and with reference to common international practices, to prevent and curb the harmful effects of illegal information on state security, public interests and minors. The Decision of the National People's Congress Standing Committee on Guarding Internet Security, Regulations on Telecommunications of the People's Republic of China, Measures on the Administration of Internet Information Services, Measures on the Administration of Security Protection of the International Networking of Computer Information Networks, and other laws and regulations clearly prohibit the spread of information that contains contents subverting state power, undermining national unity, infringing upon national honor and interests, inciting ethnic hatred and secession, advocating heresy, pornography, violence, terror and other information that infringes upon the legitimate rights and interests of others. According to these regulations, basic telecommunication business operators and Internet information service providers shall establish Internet security management systems and utilize technical measures to prevent the transmission of all types of illegal information.

The state advocates strengthening Internet legal and ethical education. The level of legal and ethical education of the whole society is closely connected with the construction of the Internet environment. It supports the work of Internet legal and ethical education, encourages the active participation by various media and social organizations, and proactively pushes forward the inclusion of Internet legal and ethical education in the curriculums of primary and middle schools. It attaches great importance to youth and women's organizations in their roles of elevating national network morals, and encourages relevant organizations to carry out activities for the public good to spread Internet knowledge and promote the correct use of the Internet.

The state guarantees online safety for minors. Minors have become China's biggest online group. By the end of 2009, a third of the country's 384 million Internet users were minors. The Internet is playing an increasingly important role in the development of minors. Meanwhile, online pornographic, illegal and harmful information is seriously damaging the physical and psychological health of young people, and this has become recognized as a prominent issue of public concern. The Chinese government attaches great importance to online safety for minors, and has always prioritized the protection of minors in the overall work of Internet information security programs. The Law of the People's Republic of China on the Protection of Minors stipulates that the state shall take measures to prevent minors from overindulging in the Internet; prohibit any organization or individual from producing, selling, renting or providing by other means electronic publications and Internet information containing pornography, violence, murder, terror, gambling or other contents harmful to minors. The state encourages research and development of Internet tools that are conducive to the online protection of minors, as well as Internet products and services suitable for minors. Families, schools and all other social units shall work together to protect minors online and create a healthy online environment for the development of minors. The Chinese government will actively push forward the "Mothers' Education Program" to help parents guide their children in using the Internet correctly.

The state proactively protects digital intellectual property. Since 2000 China has revised the Copyright Law of the People's Republic of China, promulgated the Measures for the Administrative Protection of Internet Copyright and offered relevant judicial interpretations for the trial of cases involving computer and network copyrights disputes, thus providing a legal basis for digital intellectual property protection. The state copyright administrative department is in charge of the investigation and punishment of Internet copyright infringement and pirating activities. To combat repeated copyright infringement, group infringement and large-scale pirating activities, relevant government organs have taken a series of administrative actions. China will continue to explore intellectual property protection work in the Internet environment, and strive to realize a balance between public interest protection and the promotion of innovation.

The state protects citizens' online privacy. The protection of online privacy is closely connected with the people's sense of security and confidence in the Internet. The Chinese government proactively promotes the improvement of relevant legislation and Internet corporate service regulations, in order to steadily enhance online privacy protection systems. The Decision of the National People's Congress Standing Committee on Guarding Internet Security stipulates that illegal interception, tampering with or deletion of others' e-mails or other data and infringement upon citizens' freedom and privacy of correspondence that constitutes a crime shall be investigated for criminal liability. According to the self-disciplinary public pledges of the Internet industry, Internet service providers are responsible for protecting users' privacy. The providers shall announce their relevant privacy protection commitment when providing services, provide reporting and reception channels for privacy infringement and take effective measures to protect users' privacy.

The Chinese government actively explores channels and methods of scientific and effective Internet administration by law, and has formed a preliminary Internet administration model that is suitable for China's conditions and consistent with international practices. Internet administration is a process of continuous practice, and the Chinese government is determined to further improve its Internet administration work.

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