China's New Censorship Plan: Three Years In Prison If You Get 500 Retweets Of A 'Harmful' Post

from the what-could-possibly-go-wrong dept

As we've noted before, the online community is kept on a pretty tight leash in China, with information deemed subversive or just embarrassing disappearing quickly from the networks. But it seems that's not enough. Global Voices is reporting that yet another approach is being tried to discourage "offenders" from posting in the first place:

China has stepped up its crackdown on online rumors by issuing a judicial framework for prosecuting offenders. Internet users who share false information that is defamatory or harms the national interest face up to three years in prison if their posts are viewed 5,000 times or forwarded 500 times, according to a judicial interpretation released on September 9, 2013.

The new guideline, issued by the Supreme People's Court, defines the criteria for convicting and sentencing offenders. This includes causing a mass incident, disturbing public order, inciting ethnic and religious conflicts, and damaging the state's image.
In some ways, this is an escalation of a five-strikes program Techdirt wrote about last year, with the final punishment no longer being thrown off an online service for a short while, but being thrown in prison for a long while. That sudden jump in seriousness would suggest that the earlier scheme didn't work very well, and that the authorities are still having problems with controlling the flow of information online.

Aside from obvious issues of censorship, what's troubling here is how easily the system could be abused. For example, it would be simple for people to band together to view or retweet dodgy posts from someone they wanted sent to prison. Whether or not that happens, it's disappointing to see the new Chinese leadership moving in the direction of more censorship and harsher penalties, when many were hoping the recent handover might be an opportunity to bring in reforms and a lighter touch, both online and offline.

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    Ninja (profile), Sep 17th, 2013 @ 12:13pm

    it's disappointing to see the new Chinese leadership moving in the direction of more censorship and harsher penalties

    It's hard to give up power, China is already fast sliding that slippery slope. See Obama.

     

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    identicon
    Matthew A. Sawtell, Sep 17th, 2013 @ 12:46pm

    What is the lyric line from "Won't be fooled again"?

    "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss"

     

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Sep 17th, 2013 @ 2:00pm

      Re: What is the lyric line from "Won't be fooled again"?

      The Who? The what? The where?

      Actually it was expected that the new guys in China would be more conservative than the old guys. Guess the experts were right for once!

      On the negative side of things, China is trying to turn from export controlled growth to inner market growth, which would make the "move the White House to Beijing for economic reasons" far less attractive.

       

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 17th, 2013 @ 1:18pm

    Former NSA Boss: I love China!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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      JBDragon (profile), Sep 17th, 2013 @ 3:22pm

      Re:

      New NSA Boss, Continue to do the Same thing, this time more under wraps!!! Double down, the odds of getting caught or going to jail is slim to none!!! All that will happen is moved someplace else in Government!!! Things continue on getting worse and worse.

      Thanks to all of those that like BIG GOVERNMENT!!! This is the results and it's only going to get worse.

       

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 17th, 2013 @ 1:20pm

    it would be simple for people to band together to view or retweet dodgy posts from someone they wanted sent to prison

    That's probably the intent. Most dictatorships have suppressed dissent by encouraging citizens to rat each other out. This would essentially be the same thing.

     

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 17th, 2013 @ 1:24pm

    And Techdirts CENSORSHIP PLAN ??

    Delay all posts that MIGHT disagree with TechDirt ???

    (step 1)

    Go out of business
    (step 2)

     

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Sep 20th, 2013 @ 12:32am

      Re: And Techdirts CENSORSHIP PLAN ??

      Your post came 4 minutes after the one before it; clearly you're not being delayed enough, darryl. Here, have a DMCA vote! While you're at it, cut your dick on a solar panel, there's a good lad.

       

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    PRMan, Sep 17th, 2013 @ 1:52pm

    Don't tell...

    Don't tell 4chan. They'll have a field day with this.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 17th, 2013 @ 2:13pm

    ROFL I can see this leading to mass trolling.. Shit when I was abusing some pay to win games I ended up creating a good 2500 Twitter accounts.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 17th, 2013 @ 6:08pm

    At worst? It'll end up being a mechanism for throwing enemies in jail.

    At best? It'll change how people might send emails or messages, such that they remove the long list of email addresses when forwarding messages, or it'll encourage people to copy/paste text and send new messages - which aren't forwarded.

    Or it'll just devolve to the point where half the population lands in prison aside from officials' children or people in rural areas. Way to go, China!

     

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    ethorad (profile), Sep 18th, 2013 @ 2:01am

    "For example, it would be simple for people to band together to view or retweet dodgy posts from someone they wanted sent to prison"

    Only if the retweeters wanted to risk getting 500 retweets themselves. (Or were based outside China I guess)

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 18th, 2013 @ 4:28am

    and considering the record on human rights that is going on in the USA and other so-called Democratic Countries, the difference here is, exactly ????????????

     

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