China Announces Judicial Explanation to Back Online Rumor Crackdown09-09 18:14 Caijing
Authorities in Beijing are seeking legitimacy for its ongoing campaign against online rumors, amid concerns that a string of detentions of netizens in recent weeks could risk misusing the current law.
The country's top judicial authorities, the Supreme People's Court and Supreme People's Procuratorate have defined scenarios for various kinds of violation of laws in a judicial interpretation on Monday, with charges including defamation, illegal business operations and extortion.
Libelous or damaging rumors posted online and viewed at least 5,000 times or re-tweeted 500 times are classed as a "serious" breach of Criminal Law, the interpretation said.
Offenders shall face up to three years in prison according to Chinese law. Other "serious" cases falling within the range include online posting that have a great negative effect on a victim or their family, such as mental anguish; and the spreading of false information that causes mass disturbances, religious conflict, social disorder or damages of national interests, according to the interpretation.
It also states that profiting from helping others delete post is illegal, which should be investigated under the crime of "illegal business operations". A person who gains more than 20,000 yuan ($3,267) through this practice will see his or her case treated as "serious".
Extortions will occur if web users seek benefits by threatening to post information with adverse effect no matter the information is true or false, it added.
In a significant move against the so-called rumor mongers, local police in Beijing arrested two Internet sensations who made names by cooking up rumors on August 21. A few days later, Charles Xue, a noted Chinese-American investor and influential mico-blogger on Sina Weibo, was detained in Beijing on charges of prostitution, just days after state-run media named the exuberant celebrity as a hinted target in the campaign.
Local governments followed suits quickly. Authorities in central China's Hubei Province punished hundreds in 135 cases for spreading online rumors, among which five were under criminal detentions.
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