China has issued new internet regulations increasing Communist party control over online news providers, the latest step in the country’s push to tighten its policing of the web.
The ruling party oversees a vast apparatus designed to censor online content deemed politically sensitive, maintaining that such measures are necessary for the protection of national security. Sites blocked due to their content or sensitivity, among them Facebook and Twitter, cannot be accessed in China without special software that allows users to bypass the strict controls.
New regulations released by the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) on Tuesday will increase party control over who can publish what online, taking effect from June 1.
All websites, apps, forums, blogs, microblogs, social media accounts, instant messaging and live streaming platforms and other entities that select or edit news will need a license to post reports or commentary about the government, economy, military, foreign affairs, and social issues, the CAC said.
Such online news service providers must “correctly guide public opinion” and “serve the cause of socialism” while “safeguarding national and public interests”, it said.
Business and editorial operations must be kept separate, and those who do not receive public funding will not be allowed to conduct original reporting, it added.
Meanwhile, China plans to launch its own online encyclopaedia next year, hoping to build a ‘cultural Great Wall’ that can rival Wikipedia as a go-to information source for Chinese internet users, according to a statement by the project’s executive editor published on the website of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.