Global EditionASIA 中文双语Français
Home / China / Society

Prosecutors step up efforts to crack down on cybercrimes

By YANG ZEKUN | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2022-03-08 07:33
Share - WeChat

Chinese prosecutors have intensified efforts over the past year to fight online crimes, especially cross-border fraud and illegal gambling, the country's procurator-general said.

Zhang Jun, head of the Supreme People's Procuratorate. [Photo provided to]

The focus has been cross-border criminal gangs and organizing Chinese citizens to go overseas to join such gangs, Zhang Jun, head of the Supreme People's Procuratorate, told China Daily in an exclusive interview on the sidelines of the ongoing annual sessions of the country's top legislature and top political advisory body.

In 2021, more than 23,000 people were prosecuted for illegally crossing the national border, 2.8 times the number the previous year, SPP data shows. People who provided support for overseas criminal groups through measures such as providing bank and mobile phone cards, and money laundering via underground banks or virtual currencies, have also been punished.

"Currently, online crimes including fraud, drug trafficking, gambling and infringement of personal information, show a clear characteristic of crossing borders," he said.

Zhang said there's a trend for criminals to make their bases outside China but target people inside the country. This makes it hard for Chinese judicial authorities to take action against them.

"Maintaining cybersecurity is a global and common challenge for all countries. International judicial cooperation is urgently needed to combat cross-border cybercrimes," he said.

To better deal with such crimes, the SPP set up a special working group last year, and formulated measures for handling cybercrime cases and improving international cooperation.

Various meetings with prosecutors-general from other countries have been organized through bodies including the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and BRICS. At the gatherings, the SPP communicated with countries under these frameworks to form joint efforts on combating cross-border cybercrimes.

"Many difficulties remain in obtaining evidence, tracking fugitives, recovering stolen assets and repatriating suspects in cross-border cybercrimes," Zhang said. "Chinese procuratorial organs, within the frameworks of cooperation, are ready to provide prompt and efficient support and assistance to other countries."

Zhang said that although internet information technology has progressed and brought huge benefits to people, it has also accelerated some criminal activities spreading to the internet. "Without a safe internet, there can be no safe China," he said.

Rising cybercrimes

Telecom and internet fraud are occurring at a high rate and are intertwined with criminal networks, which supply material and technical support and facilitate payment settlements, according to official data. Cybercrimes happen across multiple areas, including investment, financing and online shopping.

In recent years, China has stepped up efforts to combat crimes that affect people's security and the SPP has worked with other judicial authorities to target the links in criminal chains.

Last year, about 282,000 people were prosecuted for online fraud, gambling and dissemination of pornographic material, up 98.5 percent year-on-year, according to the SPP.

"We upheld the policy of tempering justice with mercy while handling such cases," Zhang said. "We recommend heavier punishment to key members of criminal groups and people who use minors or students for committing crimes. For those who were just involved for a short time or who were coerced or used by criminals to commit crimes, prosecutors give priority to education and rehabilitation."

The elderly and minors are easy targets for cybercriminals, especially in telecom fraud, due to a lack of understanding about vigilance and prevention, according to Zhang, who added this had a severe impact on society.

To address the issue, the SPP has combined its crackdown on cybercrimes involving seniors and minors with prevention measures. Illegal fundraising and fraud in old-age care services, tourism and healthcare for seniors have been targeted. To protect minors from swindlers, areas such as live broadcast rewards and online gaming have come under greater scrutiny, along with using minors to commit telecom fraud.

Some school students have been recruited to sell mobile phone cards and bank cards to help criminal networks or become directly involved in the criminal activities themselves, according to case files.

"Procuratorates need to accurately identify the status and role of minors and students involved in such crimes before taking rehabilitating or punitive measures," Zhang said.

He added that procuratorates have worked hard with relevant authorities to better explain mobile services and apps to older people to improve their ability to use the services and identify risks.

Public interest lawsuits

Zhang said procuratorates should not only focus on individual cases and must promote comprehensive governance of cyberspace.

Last year, more than 2,000 public interest lawsuits about personal information infringement were handled. Typical cases involved apps illegally collecting and infringing on personal information and facial recognition security, SPP data shows.

One high-profile online libel case occurred in Yuhang district, Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, in July 2020.

Two men faked chat records of a woman surnamed Gu to say she had improper sexual relations with a courier. The fake exchange was posted to a WeChat group and then forwarded to more than 100 groups. It was eventually read by more than 20,000 people, affecting Gu's personal and work life.

The woman reported the case to police in August 2020 and initiated a lawsuit against the two men in October.

The Yuhang procuratorate held the two criminally accountable in December 2020 and filed a public prosecution against them in February 2021.

In April 2021, the two men were each given a suspended one-year prison sentence with a two-year probationary period.

The SPP published the case as a warning to people that online libel not only infringes on individual rights, but also seriously harms social order, and to demonstrate it can be publicly prosecuted and punished.

The case also provided a reference for law enforcement and judicial organs in handling such cases, Zhang said.

Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349