October 17, 2005

All journalists

China’s State Council and the Ministry of Information Industry issued severe restrictions for online news. Under the new regulations, any individual or organization that posts news or commentary must first be approved by the State Council Information Office. Bulletin board systems (BBS), a widely used medium for posting news and independent commentary, and systems sending information via cell phone are among the services that must get government approval.

The rules require that major search engines and news portals post commentary only from news organizations under direct government control. Regulations also reiterate broad categories of news forbidden online, including anything that “harms national security” or “public interest.” The rules add two new categories: content that could incite illegal protests or gatherings, and information about “illegal” non-governmental organizations.