Through its official WeChat public account “Cyber China” (网信中国) today, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), the country’s central agency for internet regulation and control, announced that it had ordered the immediate suspension and “rectification” of the websites of two leading Chinese photo and media agencies — Visual China Group (VCG) and IC Photo. [ABOVE: Screen capture of the IC Photo website from October 2019, from Wayback Machine].

Both websites today were unavailable. The VCG website yielded a message on a blank white screen that read: “Implementing relevant management demands, the Visual China Group website is from this time undergoing a complete self-inspection and rectification, and the website will suspend service during the rectification period.”

The website for IC Photo similarly carried a message that read: “RECTIFICATION NOTICE: Implementing relevant management demands, the IC Photo website is from this time undergoing a complete self-inspection and rectification, and the website will suspend service during the rectification period — Shanghai Yingmai Cultural Communication Co.,Ltd., December 10, 2019.”

According to the CAC notice, both websites were cited for “illegally taking part in internet information services, illegally engaging in business cooperation in internet information services with overseas companies.”

The notice said the sites had “seriously disrupted orderly network communication” by engaging in these activities without proper permissions, and without first undergoing a security review (安全评估).

It is not yet clear what nature of content fell afoul of censors at the CAC. Established in 2000, VCG is the largest supplier of stock image and video content to commercial clients in China, and the third largest in the world.