China to give jail sentences for Internet users found guilty of online defamation

China has been stepping up measures to crack down on online rumors

In perhaps China's toughest push to crack down on online defamation, authorities have unveiled measures that could send Internet users to jail for up to three years if found guilty of posting slanderous rumors.

The measures were announced on Monday as part of a judicial interpretation of Chinese law. The measures were established by China's Supreme Court and its top prosecution agency, which spent more than a year studying the subject.

"In recent years, illegal activities that have used the Internet to commit crimes have increased daily," said Supreme Court spokesman Sun Jungong in a televised press conference. "In particular, has been the prominent use of the Internet to commit crimes of defamation."

Under the new measures, Internet users can face defamation charges if their online posts have received over 5,000 views or been re-posted over 500 times. They can also be charged if their online statements caused self-harm or suicide to the victim.

If found guilty, users face a jail sentence of up to three years, other forms of detention and the deprivation of political rights.

The new measures are China's latest effort to control public discourse on the Internet in a country already infamous for its strict censorship laws. The nation has close to 600 million Internet users, many of who use social networking sites including Twitter-like service Sina Weibo to connect with friends, read local news or hear about controversial topics.

Many top Chinese websites censor content to comply with government rules. This includes deleting or blocking comments that touch on antigovernment views or sensitive issues. But still, authorities have been heavy-handed in trying to stop alleged online rumors on the sites, going as far to arrest people involved.

Last month, local police detained two Internet users who were part of a company that created online rumors for financial gain. One of the offenses they committed included defaming Lei Feng, a former Chinese soldier celebrated for his modesty and commitment to Communist ideals, who is a national icon in the country.

Monday's judicial interpretation came out in part from growing concern from the public, said the Supreme Court's spokesman. Internet users who spread defamatory comments unintentionally will not be charged, he added.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags social mediaregulationinternetsocial networkingInternet-based applications and services

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Michael Kan

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Imou: At home with security

Modern living is all about functionality and security for everybody from the very young to the very old. With Imou anybody can enjoy smart life – the solution is at their fingertips.

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?