New regulations could further close China's Internet

March 29, 2016
Draft Chinese Internet rules come as Beijing increases censorship across the board, ratcheting up already strict limits on acces
Draft Chinese Internet rules come as Beijing increases censorship across the board, ratcheting up already strict limits on access to online content and stepping up pressure on the media to toe the government line

Draft Chinese Internet rules could further restrict access to websites not registered in the closely regulated country, experts said Tuesday, although the measures' potential impact remained unclear.

The proposed rules come as China increases censorship across the board, ratcheting up already strict limits on access to online content and stepping up pressure on the media to toe the government line.

The regulations, released for public comment last week by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, aim to update rules for the use of "", the addresses used to navigate the Internet.

The rules are "broad and vague" but in their strictest reading they could be used to "censor any domain name that is not registered in China", said Lokman Tsui, an expert on Internet policy at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

"Only domain names approved by the authorities are allowed, and other domain names not registered in China now would be under this new regulation de facto blocked".

Violators could be fined up to 30,000 RMB ($4,600).

It was not clear whether the rules would apply to websites hosted outside China but accessible from within the country, or only those located on domestic servers.

But several Chinese news outlets, including the Communist Party-linked Global Times, reported the regulations would probably affect foreign companies, including Microsoft and Apple, which host services on servers in China.

The regulations also stipulate that domain names cannot "endanger state security", "leak state secrets", or "harm national honour".

Kan Kaili, a professor at Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications, said he believed that the rules were meant to regulate companies in China providing domain registration services, and that they were unlikely to affect access to foreign websites.

Nevertheless, "Chinese authorities are quite cautious about every aspect of the Internet", he said, adding that they "can't lose control over it whatsoever".

China's Great Firewall, the system used to prevent access to select foreign websites such as Google and Facebook, could be rendered "ineffective" without restrictions on domain name registration, he said.

The new rules are open for public comment until April 25. In the past, controversial laws and regulations have undergone significant amendment if they generate heated criticism.

Explore further: China issues new rules on Internet domain names

Related Stories

China plans stricter regulation of Uber-like services

October 12, 2015

China plans to more strictly regulate online ride-booking services, according to draft rules and state media, in what analysts said Monday could be a "devastating blow" to an industry pioneered by US firm Uber.

China requires approval for foreign firms to publish online

February 19, 2016

A new Chinese regulation announced this week will require foreign companies and foreign-Chinese joint ventures to acquire approval before publishing content online, in the government's latest move to tighten control of the ...

Recommended for you

Flower power—photovoltaic cells replicate rose petals

June 24, 2016

With a surface resembling that of plants, solar cells improve light-harvesting and thus generate more power. Scientists of KIT (Karlsruhe Institute of Technology) reproduced the epidermal cells of rose petals that have particularly ...

New device could unlock information potential of sunlight

June 24, 2016

People rely on sunlight for heat, light, and energy every day, but three Penn State researchers believe we're missing a valuable piece of information that sunlight itself could provide—the dynamic directions of incoming ...

Ultra-thin solar cells can bend around a pencil

June 20, 2016

Scientists in South Korea have made ultra-thin photovoltaics flexible enough to wrap around the average pencil. The bendy solar cells could power wearable electronics like fitness trackers and smart glasses. The researchers ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.