'Unprecedented' regulation part of stricter Internet management: experts
The Chinese government is stepping up efforts to strengthen management of the Internet with the recent drafting of an "unprecedented" regulation on Internet domain names, observers said.
According to a draft regulation on Internet domain names issued by China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, Internet domain names with access to China should be provided by domestic Internet domain name registration services, which should in turn be managed by Chinese institutions. Service providers that are not under the management of Chinese institutions cannot offer domain names with access to China.
The draft added that violators can be punished with a penalty of up to 30,000 yuan ($4,628). Their violations will also be announced in public notices and rectifications will be demanded.
Authorities are soliciting public opinions on the draft until April 25.
"Such a regulation document can only be the start [of legislative efforts in this regard]. A specific law for Internet information management might follow in the future," Zhu Wei, deputy director of the Communications Law Research Center at the China University of Political Science and Law, told the Global Times on Monday.
Zhu pointed out the regulation is only necessary in the short term to ensure "national security and ideological security."
Lokman Tsui, a scholar of telecommunication policy at the School of Journalism and Communication of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, told the Global Times on Monday that the regulation is "unprecedented."
Under the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20), China pledged to strengthen the precise administration of cyberspace and to build a multilateral, democratic and transparent Internet governance system.
Observers noted that the draft regulation is the latest measure taken by Chinese authorities in the nation's campaign to build up the management of cyberspace.
On February 4, China's State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology jointly issued new regulations to strengthen supervision of online publications.
The new regulations, which took effect on March 10, stipulate that technical equipment, servers and storage devices used by online publications must be kept in China.
On February 28, the Cyberspace Administration of China closed the social media accounts of several online celebrities for "violating principles of the Constitution and harming national interests," Xinhua Daily reported.
Meanwhile, Chinese Internet police in 50 cities and regions have launched social network accounts since 2015 to identify illegal and harmful information on the Internet and deter and prevent cyber crimes.