Provisions on the Governance of the Online Content Environment (Mainland China)

Joyce Wen

To create a good online environment and protect the rights and interests of citizens, legal persons and other organizations, the State Internet Information Office has enacted the Provisions on the Governance of the Online Content Environment (the “Provisions”) pursuant to laws and administrative regulations such as the National Security Law of the People’s Republic of China, the Cybersecurity Law of the People’s Republic of China, and the Administrative Measures for Internet Information Services.

1. Regulating the behavior of online content producers, service platforms and service users

Online content producers shall abide by the law, follow public morals, and not harm national interests, public interests and the rights and interests of others.  They are encouraged to produce, duplicate and distribute Chinese style socialist ideas which promote the new Xi Jinping era and comprehensively, accurately, and vividly interpret the Chinese style socialist path, theories, institution, and culture; promote the Party’s ideals, principles and policies, as well as the key policy arrangements of the Central Committee; showcase the economic and social development and reflect the great struggle and vivid life of the people; carry forward the core socialist values, disseminate the fine moral culture and the spirit of the times, and fully display the uplifting spirit of the Chinese nation; respond effectively to social attention, dispel concerns, clarify facts and help the general public reach consensus; contribute to enhancing the international influence of Chinese culture and present a true multidimensional portrayal of China to the world; and create other content that emphasize taste, style and responsibility, eulogize truthfulness, compassion and beauty, and promote unity and stability.

An online content platform shall fulfill its primary responsibility of managing content, strengthen the governance of the online content environment on the platform, and promote the formation of positive and kind online culture; set up a mechanism for governing the online content environment, develop detailed rules for such governance, and improve the user registration, account management, information release and review, posts and comments review, website environment management, real-time inspection, emergency handling and the disposal of online rumors and unlawful hacking-related industry systems; there shall be a person in charge of the governance of the online content environment and the platform shall have professional personnel commensurate with its business scope and service scale, strengthen training and examination, and improve the quality of practitioners.

Online information content service users shall use the Internet in a civilized and healthy manner; thoroughly perform their obligations in accordance with the law and user agreements; and engage in civilized interactions and make rational statements in their online activities such as posts or video comments in online activities.  They and shall not release information about the content stipulated under Article 6 of the Provisions, including but not limited to the basic principles enshrined in the Constitution and information that jeopardizes national security, leaks state secrets, subverts state powers, undermines the unity of the country and damages the honor and interest of the country.

Online content service users, content producers, and service platforms shall not engage illegal activity such as insult, defame, threaten, spread false rumors or infringe on the privacy of others to harm their interests through the use of the Internet and relevant information technologies.

2. Supervision and management responsibilities

Online content authorities at all levels shall establish and improve their working mechanisms, which include information sharing, consultations and notifications, joint law enforcement, case supervision, and information disclosure, with other relevant authorities to coordinate the governance of the online content environment.  Online content authorities at all levels shall carry out the supervision and inspection of online content service platforms in their management of online content as the competent entity and conduct special supervision over problematic platforms.  Online content service platforms shall cooperate with the supervision and inspection carried out by the relevant authorities.  Online content authorities at all levels shall establish supervision and evaluation mechanisms for joint participation by governments, enterprises and the general public and regularly evaluate their governance of the online content service platform environment in their respective administrative regions.

3. Legal liabilities of entities.

For online content producers who violate the Article 6 of the Provisions on prohibited content, the content service platforms shall issue warning rectifications, restrict access to functions, suspension of updates, closing of accounts and other measures in accordance with law and the user agreement, and timely remove illegal information content, keep records and report to relevant authorities.

If an online content service platform violates the Provisions, the relevant online content authorities shall, depending on the specific provisions violated, deal with the violation pursuant to their duties in accordance with laws and administrative regulations such as the Cybersecurity Law of the People’s Republic of China and the Administrative Measures for Internet Information Services.  Online content authorities above the level of districted cities may also conduct official interviews, issue warnings or demand rectification within a specified period.  If rectification is refused or the violations are serious, an order may be issued to suspend updates and subsequently handled according to law.