Cyberspace regulator meets the press
Updated: 2006-02-17 19:45
Lianhe Zaobao (Singapore): Based on what you have just said,
how do the State Council Information Office and other government departments
divide the work?
Liu: The State Council Information Office, the Ministry of
Information Industry, and the Ministry of Public Security are the three key
departments that administrate the Internet, taking charge of Internet news and
information services, industry management, and cracking down on Internet crimes
respectively. There is division of work as well as coordination of efforts among
them, as well as with other administrative departments.
Sing Tao Daily (Hong Kong): You said China regulates the
Internet according to law, and at the same time in the light of international
practices. Can you give some examples?
Liu: Overall, what we have done in regulating the Internet
is consistent with international practice.
First of all, a majority of the countries in the world have agreed to
administrate the Internet according to law. Since the mid-1990s the US, the EU,
the UK, France and Germany where the Internet has been widely used have made
significant progress in Internet legislation. China has also made great efforts
to this end.
Second, as is well known, legislation always lags behind real development of
the Internet. This situation forces the industry to solve newly emerging
problems first. The Internet Society of China, established in 2001, has drawn up
rules and regulations to enhance self-discipline within the industry, and has
achieved the desired results. Similarly, the US, the UK, France, Germany and
Australia have their own Internet confederations.
Third, to give play to public supervision of the Internet, China has set up
informants' hotlines and websites. In June 2004, the Internet Society of China
started a website called China Reporting Center of Illegal and Unhealthy
Information (URL: www.net.China.cn), which has a similar function to the UK's
Internet Watch Foundation (IWF).
Fourth, we attach great importance to public education. In our opinion, it's
essential to heighten general awareness, particularly for teenagers, to stay
away from harmful information spread on the Internet. Our view happens to
coincide with that of many Western countries, which have also advocated
strengthening public education for the appropriate use of the Internet in recent
Wall Street Journal : It seems that some websites would not
be allowed by China to publish politics-oriented content, especially that which
the government does not agree with. How does the Chinese government inform
Internet companies of the type of information that is illegal and not allowed to
be released? Is there a list that names the websites and the types of contents
that are not allowed to be disseminated? Or are they to decide for themselves
what contents are not allowed to be published in China?
Liu: Generally speaking, opinion on China's public affairs
is actively discussed on the Internet in China, including sharply worded
political content. As for the topics and contents that are prohibited to be
spread, Chinese laws such as the Resolution of the National People's Congress
Standing Committee on Internet Safety and Regulations on Online Information
Service Management contain specific provisions. In recent years, the
Internet-related confederations have played an active role in helping website
administrators and users understand these laws.
We have also encouraged website administrators to handle illegal and
unhealthy information on their own initiative. I would like to share an
important figure with you today: China Reporting Center of Illegal and Unhealthy
Information had received 235,000 reports on illegal and unhealthy information as
of yesterday (February 13, 2006) since the center was set up. All the member
sites of the Internet Society of China have access to details of these reports
through a technical system.
The third piece of work we have done is to educate Internet staff to raise
public consciousness of safeguarding public interests. Websites should be aware
that they serve public interests when spreading content, including news stories,
because information dissemination in China is playing a more and more important
role in society. Further, I can definitely tell you that the name list you
mentioned does not exist.