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Cyberspace regulator meets the press
Updated: 2006-02-17 19:45

Lianhe Zaobao(Singapore): Based on what you have just said, how do the State Council Information Office and other government departments divide the work?

Liu: The State Council Information Office, the Ministry of Information Industry, and the Ministry of Public Security are the three key departments that administrate the Internet, taking charge of Internet news and information services, industry management, and cracking down on Internet crimes respectively. There is division of work as well as coordination of efforts among them, as well as with other administrative departments.

Sing Tao Daily(Hong Kong): You said China regulates the Internet according to law, and at the same time in the light of international practices. Can you give some examples?

Liu: Overall, what we have done in regulating the Internet is consistent with international practice.

First of all, a majority of the countries in the world have agreed to administrate the Internet according to law. Since the mid-1990s the US, the EU, the UK, France and Germany where the Internet has been widely used have made significant progress in Internet legislation. China has also made great efforts to this end.

Second, as is well known, legislation always lags behind real development of the Internet. This situation forces the industry to solve newly emerging problems first. The Internet Society of China, established in 2001, has drawn up rules and regulations to enhance self-discipline within the industry, and has achieved the desired results. Similarly, the US, the UK, France, Germany and Australia have their own Internet confederations.

Third, to give play to public supervision of the Internet, China has set up informants' hotlines and websites. In June 2004, the Internet Society of China started a website called China Reporting Center of Illegal and Unhealthy Information (URL: www.net.China.cn), which has a similar function to the UK's Internet Watch Foundation (IWF).

Fourth, we attach great importance to public education. In our opinion, it's essential to heighten general awareness, particularly for teenagers, to stay away from harmful information spread on the Internet. Our view happens to coincide with that of many Western countries, which have also advocated strengthening public education for the appropriate use of the Internet in recent years.

Wall Street Journal: It seems that some websites would not be allowed by China to publish politics-oriented content, especially that which the government does not agree with. How does the Chinese government inform Internet companies of the type of information that is illegal and not allowed to be released? Is there a list that names the websites and the types of contents that are not allowed to be disseminated? Or are they to decide for themselves what contents are not allowed to be published in China?

Liu: Generally speaking, opinion on China's public affairs is actively discussed on the Internet in China, including sharply worded political content. As for the topics and contents that are prohibited to be spread, Chinese laws such as the Resolution of the National People's Congress Standing Committee on Internet Safety and Regulations on Online Information Service Management contain specific provisions. In recent years, the Internet-related confederations have played an active role in helping website administrators and users understand these laws.

We have also encouraged website administrators to handle illegal and unhealthy information on their own initiative. I would like to share an important figure with you today: China Reporting Center of Illegal and Unhealthy Information had received 235,000 reports on illegal and unhealthy information as of yesterday (February 13, 2006) since the center was set up. All the member sites of the Internet Society of China have access to details of these reports through a technical system.

The third piece of work we have done is to educate Internet staff to raise public consciousness of safeguarding public interests. Websites should be aware that they serve public interests when spreading content, including news stories, because information dissemination in China is playing a more and more important role in society. Further, I can definitely tell you that the name list you mentioned does not exist.

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