In the first clear example of China’s new Cybersecurity Law being cited to target major social media platforms, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) issued a notice today saying that WeChat, Sina Weibo and Baidu Tieba — a popular online community linked to Baidu’s search services — were under investigation for violations of the new law, which took effect on June 1 this year.
The investigations will be carried out, the notice says, by the CAC’s Beijing and Guangdong offices. While Weibo and Baidu are based in Beijing, Tencent is based in Shenzhen.
The notice suggests the investigations were prompted by “reports made by web users” (language not uncommon in the enforcement of online controls), and that the three platforms “host content including violence, fabrication and rumor, obscenity and pornography, and other information shared by users that harms national security, public safety and social order.”
A translation of the notice follows:
Tencent’s WeChat, Sina Weibo and Baidu Tieba Under Investigation for Violations of the Cybersecurity Law
Cyberspace Administration of China / August 11, 2017, 10:00
Recently, the Cyberspace Administration of China directed its authorities in both the city of Beijing and Guangdong province to carry out investigations of Tencent’s WeChat, Sina Weibo and Baidu Tieba in accord with the law. According to reports made by web users, with preliminary investigations made by CAC authorities in Beijing and Guangdong, the three websites WeChat, Weibo and Tieba all host content including violence, fabrication and rumor, obscenity and pornography, and other information shared by users that harms national security, public safety and social order. The three website platforms are in violation of the Cybersecurity Law and other laws and regulations, and did not fully take on their management responsibilities toward information posted by users that are prohibited by laws and regulations. Follow ups on the cases will be issued by the local CAC authorities.
A spokesperson for the CAC said that the offices of the CAC will seriously implement the Cybersecurity Law and other laws and regulations, further expanding the vigor of enforcement and supervision of information on the internet, investigating in accord with the law various forms of illegal online conduct. [The agency] welcomes tips about violations of laws and regulations from the expanse of web users, and the online report center for harmful information operates 24 hours a day. Telephone for reports: 12377. Reports web address: www.12377.cn, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.