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Crackdown intensifies on cybercrime

Prosecutors target online offenses, especially those affecting minors

By Yang Zekun | China Daily | Updated: 2024-02-24 07:17
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Procuratorial authorities have intensified efforts to crack down on cybercrimes, especially those infringing on minors' rights, as such crimes have proliferated in recent years, prosecutors from the Supreme People's Procuratorate said on Friday.

According to the SPP, crimes such as online fraud, cyber violence and infringement of citizens' personal information have been escalating and evolving.

From January to November, procuratorates filed charges against 280,000 individuals involved in cybercrimes, marking a 35.5 percent increase year-on-year and accounting for 18.8 percent of criminal offenses, the top procuratorate said.

Ge Xiaoyan, deputy prosecutor-general of the SPP, said that telecom fraud has significantly increased, with charges related to such crimes having risen 63.5 percent year-on-year. Meanwhile, criminal activities providing assistance such as personnel, information, technology and funds for telecom fraud have continued to rise.

New types of cybercrimes using gimmicks such as the Metaverse, blockchain and binary options platforms continue to emerge, with virtual currencies becoming breeding grounds for cybercrimes, she said.

She noted that traditional crimes such as gambling, theft, pyramid schemes and counterfeiting have also extended into cyberspace. From January to November, charges related to theft committed through the internet increased by 22.7 percent, while charges related to online counterfeiting and sales of inferior goods surged by 85.7 percent.

"Criminals illegally obtain company-stored data through illegal methods, and instances of insider employees at network companies illegally accessing and selling company data are not uncommon," she said.

In terms of personal information protection, Zhou Huiyong, deputy head of the SPP's first procuratorial office, said that procuratorates have intensified the punishment for such crimes, emphasizing comprehensive crackdowns from the source of theft to the end sales, and strengthening protection of citizens' personal information, including finances, biometrics, tracking, and health and physiological data.

"Focusing on issues of insiders leaking citizens' personal information in industries such as finance, telecommunications, real estate, hotels and labor intermediaries, procuratorates also promote source governance through the issuance of procuratorial recommendations," he said.

From January to November, over 7,300 individuals involved in the infringement of citizens' personal information were prosecuted.

In addition, they also handled over 6,700 public interest litigation cases related to infringements of numerous citizens' personal information, failure of relevant entities to implement obligations related to combating telecom fraud, and illegal dissemination of false or harmful information during the period.

Zhou said that cyber violence is another key crime disrupting online order, and behaviors such as wanton insults, defamation and privacy infringements severely violate the personal rights of others and seriously disrupt online order.

"Cyber violence spreads widely, poses significant social harm, and it's challenging to eliminate its influence. However, victims often find it difficult to provide evidence and seek legal remedies, making it challenging to exercise their rights through self-litigation," he said.

From January to November, prosecutors charged 39 individuals with insult and defamation crimes.

They also actively explored using public interest litigation to resolve the strong public feedback regarding cyber violence, rumors and dissemination of harmful online information.

In September, the SPP, the Supreme People's Court and the Ministry of Public Security issued a document guiding cyber violence cases.

Additionally, the top procuratorate pledged to maintain harsh punishment for crimes infringing on minors' rights through the internet.

The top procuratorate and top court stipulated in an interpretation document that those who coerce or deceive minors through online video chats, send videos or photos exposing private body parts, or engage in obscene acts, shall be convicted and charged for molestation crimes.

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