China imposes Internet control

21 Apr 1998 View Comments
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UK companies doing business in China could find themselves at the mercy of hardline Internet regulations imposed by the government of the People?s Republic, writes Sean Fleming.

The rules are China?s first permanent Internet laws and are more detailed than the 1996 temporary regulations and notices they replace. They apply to all networks into, and out of, mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau.

The regulations counsel ISPs based in the regions to monitor the sites their users visit. The Chinese Ministry of Public Security (MSP) has the power to track site visits in order to ?preserve the social order and social stability? of China.

Failure to comply with the new rules could lead to penalties ranging from networks being blacked out to income being confiscated as punishment for unlawful Internet-based activities.

Internet law specialist David Flint, of Glasgow-based legal firm MacRoberts, said the regulations create a number of ?serious issues? for multinational firms. ?The Chinese government has a level of control that Western governments don?t enjoy. Anyone with links into China or Hong Kong could find themselves legislated against,? he said.

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