Chinese authorities solicit public opinions on tougher laws against epidemic rumors
Published: Jan 08, 2021 04:23 PM

File Photo: IC

The Cyberspace Administration of China on Friday solicited public opinions on a draft law on measures for the administration of internet information services, aiming to further crack down on illegal activities such as rumor spreading about the pandemic with greater punishments.

For internet information service providers that fabricate and spread false information concerning sectors such as disease, natural disasters and production that disturb social order, the cyberspace and information technology authority, competent telecommunications authorities or the public security organs shall, in accordance with their respective functions and duties, order them to make corrections, give them a warning and confiscate their illegal gains.

Any service provider that refuses to make corrections should be fined between 100,000 yuan ($15,470) and 1 million yuan, the draft said.

Besides internet service providers, individual violators may face a fine between 10,000 and 500,000 yuan, and groups shall also be fined between 100,000 and 1 million yuan.

Rumors about the epidemic have disrupted social stability and epidemic prevention since the outbreak early last year. The draft law, if implemented, is considered to be the harshest punishment since the issuing of penalties for administration of public security in August 2005.

The current penalties stipulate that those who spread rumors about the epidemic should be detained for at least 5 days but no more than 10 days and fined no more than 500 yuan.

"Although the current law on public security is issued by the public security authorities, the latest regulation, led by the CAC, is more of an economic punishment," Wang Jing, an internet lawyer from a law office in Nanjing, East China's Jiangsu Province, told the Global Times on Friday, noting that it is a good thing if tougher control on the internet is in place, given that it will further increase the cost of internet crimes and reduce the possible impacts on social stability brought by the spreading of illegal and false information.

"The draft law, if implemented, would double the punishment for crimes committed on the internet, in addition to the existing law on public security administration," said Wang.

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