Govt takes down illegal websites

By Liu Sha Source:Global Times Published: 2015-1-14 0:48:02

Many of affected sites claim to be State-owned media

China's Internet regulator announced on Tuesday that it has closed 50 illegal websites, website columns, and public WeChat accounts in the past two months.

The closure affected 17 public accounts on WeChat, 25 sites and sections of nine other sites, Jiang Jun, a spokesperson at China's Cyberspace Administration, said at a Tuesday press conference.

He said that the websites and website channels were closed for spreading lewd or pornographic content.

Some closed public accounts were found masquerading as public organizations or media groups, such as the People's Daily and inspection groups of the Communist Party of China Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.

Others were closed for publishing political news without permits, selling counterfeit invoices and spreading information about gambling and guns, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

Many websites claim to be State-owned media with names similar to "People's Daily" for profit reasons. The sites publish negative stories on local governments or companies and then attempt to extort money from their victims to suppress their "coverage," a Beijing-based networks expert told the Global Times on condition of anonymity, adding that authorities will approach those so-called news websites or public accounts with more caution in the future.

Meanwhile, the government will continue to push a real-name registration system this year on Weibo and Tieba, a forum-like platform provided by Chinese search engine company Baidu.

Although some users commented online that it was the first time a real-name system would be applied to Tieba, Hu Yong, an Internet expert at Peking University, said that it is merely a reiteration of pre-existing rules.

The real-name registration system was first applied to Weibo in 2012. In August 2014, the Cyberspace Administration released 10 provisions regulating Chinese instant message service providers' implementation of real-name registration policies.

"Strict management of information providers on the Internet is the norm in China in recent years," said Hu, adding that many Internet service providers had already implemented real-name registration systems even before authorities provided detailed instructions.

At the end of 2014, over 80 percent of WeChat users had registered with their real identities, with the number as high as 90 percent for other instant messaging platforms, said Xu Feng, head of the Cyberspace Administration's mobile network bureau. At the end of 2014, WeChat had over 600 million users, 500 million of whom were in China.

"All the closures and orders are in line with laws and regulations by the State Council," an employee with the administration told the Global Times.

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