A new law voted unanimously yesterday by the standing committee of the National People's Congress will enhance the Chinese government's control over the Internet.
Neither the actual text nor the commencement date of the full law has yet been released.
But Chinese domestic media report that the law gives the government far-reaching and vague powers to control and secure important Internet infrastructure and enforce cybersecurity.
In fact, the Chinese government already has defacto control over everything online. Sixteen years ago, as the Internet rose in prominence in China, Web portals like Sohu.com and Netease.com had their offices routinely visited by government officials intent on censoring the Internet. And today, the oversight has grown with the rise of social media and Weibo.com and WeChat being routinely censored and controlled.
All Web servers in China must also be licensed and housed at approved Internet Service Provider locations, which provides Chinese government agencies with management abilities of all netizen activity. And foreign companies are still not allowed to participate fully or easily in many technology-related sectors such as cloud computing hosting, Internet advertising sales, and Internet gaming.
At the same time, the Cyberspace Administration of China announced this week that it has barred Chinese websites from reporting details of bullying cases involving minors. Web companies will be asked to remove offending material, and then will be fined if they fail to act.
The anti-bullying announcement is meant to support and protect both bullies and victims from social pressures that could inflict more harm.