China raises rewards to curb 'illegal' content

Starting from Dec 1, citizens can rake in up to 600,000 yuan (S$118,660) for reporting illegal content, online or otherwise.
Starting from Dec 1, citizens can rake in up to 600,000 yuan (S$118,660) for reporting illegal content, online or otherwise.PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING • China is raising the cash rewards paid to citizens for reporting pornographic and "illegal" publications to the authorities.

Starting from Dec 1, people can rake in up to 600,000 yuan (S$118,660) for reporting illegal content, online or otherwise, double the 300,000 yuan under previous guidelines.

What counts as "illegal" content in China is broadly defined, but includes work that "endangers national unity", "leaks state secrets", and "disturbs social order" - umbrella terms sometimes also used when the authorities punish or silence dissidents and rights campaigners.

The new rules, published by a bureau under the top media regulator, come as Beijing ramps up controls on content.

Earlier last week, the Cyberspace Administration of China said it had cleaned up 9,800 accounts on Chinese social media platforms which it accused of spreading politically harmful information and rumours. The Internet regulator also chastised popular social media platforms WeChat and Weibo for negligence and irresponsibility.

The regulator has published new rules requiring online platforms to save a plethora of user data, including chat logs, network addresses and device type, by the end of the month.

 
 

The information would be included in "security assessment reports", which the police and the Internet regulator can request from platforms as needed.

The new requirements are part of the Cyberspace Administration's efforts to tighten control over sites that influence public opinion, such as chat groups, blogs, and Twitter-like Weibo, which was forced to roll out real-name registration in 2012.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 19, 2018, with the headline 'China raises rewards to curb 'illegal' content'. Print Edition | Subscribe