Target: President Xi Jinping
Goal: Revoke Chinese law that punishes freedom of expression on the internet
A new official judicial rule in China has placed heavier restrictions on freedom of speech via the internet. Now Chinese citizens can be punished for posting or viewing online rumors. This ruling is another hard blow against human rights and must be revoked.
On September 10, 2013, a ruling made by the Chinese government will make it illegal for their citizens to spread rumors on the internet and doing so could land them in jail. Unfortunately the internet has been tightly controlled and regulated by China, with this ruling joining masses of others that restrict freedom of speech. Despite the unpopularity of such laws, the Chinese government claims that these laws are meant to focus on malicious and libelous content. However, this is not the case; previous incidents have shown that the government actually targets critics of the government and human rights activists. In one such case, the government has shut down websites from online personalities like journalists, business tycoons and pop stars because of their controversial content. According to Amnesty International, China has the largest number of prisoners whose crimes were committed via the internet. Crimes such as defamation, creating disturbances, illegal business operations, and extortion can be committed and tried for on the internet. Currently, creating disturbances, extortion and illegal business are already criminalized in China, but this ruling allows a broader area of prosecution, meaning that there are many more things that could get a Chinese civilian fined or imprisoned.
The judicial interpretation highlights situations that could get a poster or even a viewer in trouble. If a post or content is found to be controversial or defamatory, it must have been reposted over 500 times or obtain 5,000 views for legal action to take place. Considering how easy it is for some sites to obtain these numbers, prosecution of any internet crime would be relatively easy. If the Chinese government feels that the content ‘seriously harms public order or the interests of the state,’ then the parties will be prosecuted. Also if the information on the internet leads to mass protests, public chaos, ethnic or religious clashes, or any other damages to the nation, the poster will be prosecuted.
This outrageous interpretation severely restricts freedom of speech on the internet. While many of us are free to use the internet as we please – whether it be forming a protest or viewing cats – it is unfortunate that Chinese citizens cannot exercise this right. Freedom of speech is an inherent right for all human beings; if you agree, sign the petition below to have this unjust ruling revoked.
Dear President Xi Jinping,
I am writing regarding the official judicial ruling made on the laws regarding cyberspace. In this ruling – going into effect September 10, 2013 – your government is able to prosecute those who spread rumors online, along with other offenses like defamation and extortion. This ruling severely punishes your citizens who are expressing their rights to freedom of speech, and I find it to be outrageous. Your people are peacefully expressing opinions and while rumors can be harmful, this is what humans essentially do. To restrict something like this is a waste of resources, and undermines your people’s rights to freedom of speech. I can assure you that placing these restrictions on the internet will drastically reduce your nation’s happiness and cause even more disturbances.
This ruling is not humane; already your country has the highest number of prisoners whose crimes were related to the internet. You’ve jailed journalists who are merely doing their jobs and you’ve jailed human rights activists. These are good people who are looking out for the well being of their nation. I beg of you, revoke this ruling so your people can have some freedoms on the internet.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Elizabeth M. Lynch via China Law and Policy