The news (extracted from the Wall Street Journal):
- The Chinese government said it fined Tencent, Baidu, and Twitter-like Weibo the maximum penalty under the country’s new cybersecurity law for hosting fake news, porn, and other kinds of illegal content.
- Regulators said that Tencent’s messaging app WeChat “failed to fulfill its management duty” in stopping users from posting banned content. Baidu’s online forum and Weibo were targeted for failing to prevent the spread of harmful information.
- The new cybersecurity law says perpetrators can be fined up to US$75,600 – a more symbolic than damaging punishment for the three multi-billion dollar companies.
Why it matters:
- The fine is part of an intensifying crackdown on online content as the 19th Communist Party congress in October approaches. The political event will see a reshuffling of top leaders and happens every five years.
- This year, government regulators have rolled out a number of new rules, like holding WeChat group owners responsible for content shared in their chat groups. In September, authorities arrested a man for complaining about police raids in the app.
- Celebrity gossip social media accounts have also been muzzled. In June, 60 accounts were closed as China’s cyberspace authorities told tech firms to “actively propagate core socialist values.”
- Earlier this year, the Chinese government ordered domestic telecom carriers to enforce a ban on virtual private networks (VPNs), which help users circumvent the “Great Firewall.” In July, Apple removed VPN-related apps from the China App Store to comply with Chinese laws.
Converted from Chinese yuan. Rate: US$1 = RMB 6.62.
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