China tightens restrictions for online news and commentary

New York, September 26, 2005—The Committee to Protect Journalists is deeply concerned by severe new restrictions for online news, which were issued by China’s State Council and the Ministry of Information Industry on Sunday. CPJ called the new regulations a “major setback for independent writers and Internet users in China.”

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, according to The New York Times.

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.

“These new regulations mark a major setback for independent writers and Internet users in China,” said CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper. “The government is consolidating its crackdown on the Internet with these latest onerous restrictions.”