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On 25 August 2017, The National Internet Information Office announced the “Regulation on the Management of Internet Posts and Comment Services”, introduced by the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), which will come into effect on 1 October 2017 (an English translation can be found here).

 

Real Name Registration

 

The regulation will concern all websites, where users can leave their comments, be it as text, code, emojis, pictures, audio or other methods. Only users, who have linked their account to their real name and surname will be able to leave comments or contribute in any other way to the website. Platform owners will not be allowed to give the right to comment to the users that have not verified their names.

 

However, the regulations also specify that this does not entail that users have to reveal their real name in the comment section. According to Art. 5 (1) of the regulations, the Identification system will follow the principle of ‘real name on file, whatever you want up front’. This means that users, after registering with their real names, can still choose a separate nickname, which will be shown alongside the comments.

 

Website operators will also have to implement an agreement function, which clearly outlines the duties and rights of the registered users, similar to the data protection and user policies already known in the West.

 

Comment Management Requirements

 

News portals will also have to establish a review mechanism, which requires that comments obtain an explicit approval by an internal review team before they can be published online. Such a mechanism, for example, exists already for many Chinese digital content websites, such as Youku.

 

Each website will have to employ a specialized supervision team that will monitor the information included in the comments and manage it but not to the extent where the public opinion can be interfered with by deleting or prioritizing certain comments.

 

Nonetheless, if a comment is considered to violate laws or current regulations, the operator will have to delete these comments immediately. Also, websites are required to set up a channel for complaints and notifications by users with regard to offensive or illegal content.

 

ECOVIS Bejing’s Take

 

The new regulations will require a more systematic internal process of reviewing and managing content sections. Especially website operators with a vivid and active comment section will have to invest heavily in their monitoring process in a similar fashion as it is already known for Western websites such as Facebook.

 

Smaller companies will face the choice whether they set up a separate review team or close their comment section altogether. Furthermore, given the data storage regulations of the new cyber-security regulations, all websites with at RNR mechanisms will have to store this data on Chinese servers and ensure that data protection policies are in place.

 

Contributions by Zuzanna Szubartowska

 


  

ECOVIS Beijing is a consultancy focusing on accounting, audit, tax, legal, and FDI advisory for foreign SMEs and Start-Ups in China. For more information, please visit our website www.ecovis-beijing.com or contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Richard 1grau  
Richard Hoffmann
 
Richard Hoffmann is a partner at ECOVIS Beijing China. Richard obtained an honors degree in law and worked in Germany, the United States, and China for various prestigious law firms prior to joining ECOVIS. In addition to being a member of the board of ECOVIS International, he is Supervisor for the China business of a respected German company and shares his extensive knowledge to students by teaching commercial law in China at SRH Hochschule Heidelberg. He has published more than fifty articles in international magazines, frequently speaks at high profile events in China and abroad and is often invited as a legal expert by international TV stations. Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Ecovis Beijing is the trusted tax and legal advisor to several embassies and official institutions in China. It specializes in mid-sized international companies and is focused on tax & legal advisory, accounting and auditing. If you’re interested in finding out more about tax and legal, don’t hesitate to sign up to our Newsletter, give us a call +86 (10) 6561 6609 or contact us directly via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. &;nbsp;
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