Beijing To Crack Down On Social Media 'Slanderous Rumors' | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

NPR : News

Beijing To Crack Down On Social Media 'Slanderous Rumors'

China will jail anyone caught using social media to spread "slanderous rumors" or "false information" for up to 10 years, according to a new legal interpretation of Internet restrictions, the official Xinhua news agency reports.

A court's interpretation says the spread of such rumors could automatically incur a three-year prison term, but if the post is read by 5,000 or more people and/or shared more than 500 times, the penalty could jump to 10 years in jail.

"People have been hurt and reaction in society has been strong, demanding with one voice serious punishment by the law for criminal activities like using the internet to spread rumors and defame people," court spokesman Sun Jungong said, speaking at a news conference quoted by the People's Daily website.

"No country would consider the slander of other people as 'freedom of speech,' " he said.

The Telegraph quoted Mo Shaoping, a leading human rights lawyer, as saying he "hoped the measures would help prevent 'absurd' cases such as one where a micro-blogger was arrested for tweeting that nine people had died in an accident when, in fact, the true number was only seven."

"[But] if not handled properly, this might have negative effect on freedom of speech and the online fight against corruption," he added. "I believe that in the near future online free speech and the exposure of corruption will be suppressed."

Yuan Yulai, another rights lawyer who has over 1.3 million followers on China's Twitter-like microblog Weibo, complained that the interpretation had been published "too hastily" and without public consultation.

Bloomberg says:

"China, home to more than 591 million Web users by the end of June, censors the Internet by blocking access to websites with pornography, gambling and content critical of the Communist Party's rule.

"China's Internet is 'not a space outside the law,' Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a briefing today in response to a question about the legal interpretation. 'The actions taken by the Chinese government on the Internet have been highly supported by the Chinese Internet users.' "

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Weekend Musher Finds Dogs Keep Her Hanging On

Julia Bayly of Fort Kent, Maine, works as a reporter at the Bangor Daily News. Her passion outside of work is dog sledding. It's the latest installment in our hobby series "Alter Egos."
NPR

A Peace Corps Stint In Madagascar Gave Him A Vision Of Vanilla

The top source of vanilla beans sends its fragrant crop abroad for processing into extract. Now a former Peace Corps volunteer aims to boost Madagascar's economy by building a bean-to-bottle business.
NPR

Rep. Ryan Calls For 'Culture Of Inclusion' To Tackle Poverty

Congressman and former Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan discusses his new book, The Way Forward: Renewing the American Idea.
NPR

New Amazon Series Pilots Fall Short Of A TV Revolution

NPR TV critic Eric Deggans ranks Amazon's new batch of five series pilots, asking why none of them seem break the rules of TV quite enough to draw attention.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.