Tuesday, October 1, 2013

China tackles news apps

Regulators in China's State Internet Information Office have issued a new ruling designed to shut down mobile news apps that don't get their content pre-approved by government regulators.  The move is part of China's campaign to curb "online rumours" and unfettered social media.  In September, China's top court and prosecutor ruled that people will be charged with defamation if online rumors they create are visited by more than 5000 users, or reposted more than 500 times, and subject to prison terms of three years.  Of course, no precise definition of rumor was provided, nor was there any limitation of state agents boosting views or reposts.  The announcement calls for authorities to close down all mobile apps that refuse to "rectify" their gatekeeping in order to "maintain order of news dissemination on the mobile internet."

The apps under challenge include Zaker and Chouti, both of which re-publish content from non-official sources - including from Western media like the New York Times (whose articles have been blocked in China).  According to news accounts outside China, press freedom lawyers and activists called the latest move a significant (but crude) expansion of state power to regulate Internet content in line with its oversight of traditional media.  As such, it's likely to be seen as a significant blow to those relying on microblogs and social media for unfiltered news and information.

Source -  China threatens closure of mobile news apps amid Internet crackdown, Yahoo! News Canada

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