China steps up online surveillance in countdown to Winter Olympics
Authorities target online rumours, effeminate celebrities and fan group to cultivate a ‘healthy’ environment
China is making new efforts to regulate online content, days before the start of the key Spring Festival holiday and Beijing Winter Olympics.
The Cyberspace Administration of China’s month-long campaign will target web content that violates laws and punish related accounts and platforms to cultivate a “healthy” environment for Chinese New Year, it said in a statement on Tuesday. The Beijing games are scheduled to commence on February 4, coinciding with the weeklong holiday that begins January 31.
The regulator will crack down on online rumours, child pornography and “ill-natured” activities such as feudal superstition, it said. It also pledged to prevent celebrities who had engaged in illegal or unethical activities from taking part in entertainment shows and live broadcasting and monitor fan group accounts for “irregularities”.
The new initiative echoes earlier campaigns by Beijing to crack down on information deemed harmful to society or political stability. Over the past year, regulators have intensified efforts to regulate private enterprises and the technology industry over issues ranging from antitrust to data security and income inequality.
During a two-month campaign that began last August, it targeted commercial platforms and social media accounts over content that “bad mouths” its financial markets and policies. Beijing last year also fined giants such as Tencent and Alibaba for sexually suggestive content involving minors. And the government has also taken aim at so-called effeminate celebrities and what it regards as unruly fan culture.
Websites and internet platforms, as well as trending topics and key news, will be closely monitored so that “positive” information can be displayed, according to Tuesday’s statement. Illegal and ill-natured content will be dealt with in a timely manner, the CAC said.
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