WeChat groups are very common in China. They are used for friends chat, for organizing events, for meeting people, for sending advertisement looking for customers, for discussions about business or interests and for a lot of different uses. Consequence of this wide range of uses is that it is easy to abuse it. Violations of Criminal Law are common; in fact there are a lot of trials about dissemination of obscene materials, undermining public order, assembling a crowd to disturb order at stations, public parks or market places committed on WeChat Groups.
While if it happens in a only-two-people chat it is easy to individuate the liable, the problem is more complicated when this kind of violations happens in a WeChat group. Who is liable for the criminal offense? Is it possible to pursuit who has the group management? Which kind of penalty works in that case?
All these questions now have an answer. In fact, just a few days ago, on the 7th of September, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) released Provisions on the Administration of Information Services Provided through Chat Groups on the Internetwhich will become effective on October 8th 2017.
At first it established the liability for both, the one who sets up the group and the one who manages it. Then it enforced controls from the online chat providers: they will have to verify the identity of users and keep the contents of chat-groups for more than six months. In that way, authorities will subsidize groups’ managers paying more attention on probably violations and on illegal uses and groups’ managers will be also incentivized to report crimes to authorities. On the other side, authorities will be able to verify ex post the violation according to the providers’ databases.
At last, it introduced a new system to handle the crimes: providers will have to set up credit system so that groups’ managers who break the rules will have their credit score lowered and they will be suspended from the group manager role.
This Provision is binding not only for WeChat but also for Baidu’sTieba, Alibaba’sAlipay chat, and QQ, Sina’sWeibo and other internet group.
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