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China cyber watchdog group imposes fines over censorship

[JURIST] China's Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) [official website] has imposed fines [CAC statement, in Chinese] on some of the country's top technology firms for failing to censor online content in accordance with China's censorship laws.

Among the companies are Tencent Holdings, Baidu and Weibo Corporation [corporate websites]. According to two statements from the Chinese government, one from regulators in Beijing and the other from those in Guangdong [statements, in Chinese], all three companies failed to censor their respective social media platforms for "information of violence and terror, false rumors, pornography, and other information that jeopardizes national security, public safety, and social order."

The regulators claim that by doing so, these companies violated Article 47 of the 2016 Chinese Cybersecurity Law [materials], which states:

Network operators shall strengthen management of information published by users, and upon discovering information that the law or administrative regulations prohibits the publication or transmission of, they shall immediately stop transmission of that information, employ handling measures such as deleting it, to prevent the information from spreading, save relevant records, and report it to the relevant competent departments.
The notices provided by the CAC and the regulators do not mention exactly how much these fines will be but state that each company will receive the "maximum penalty." The notices also requires that all impacted companies take swift action to remove the content and the accounts that shared it.

This crackdown on online content comes three weeks before China's 19th Party Congress, a meeting of the whole Chinese Congress which takes place once every five years.

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