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China Says Investigating Baidu, Tencent, Weibo for Breaching Cyber Laws

13 August 2017

In the first clear example of China's new Cybersecurity Law being cited to target major social media platforms, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) issued a notice today saying that WeChat, Sina Weibo and Baidu Tieba - a popular online community linked to Baidu's search services - were under investigation for violations of the new law, which took effect on June 1 this year.

According to a public statement released on the official website of the Cyberspace Administration of China on August 11, the government organ has filed an official case against these three platforms and is conducting a formal investigation.

"The next step for us will be to upgrade our technology and artificial control measures to combat. undesirable content, continuing to enhance our ability to find and dispose of bad information, guide and encourage users to report (such content) and intensify efforts to manage it".

"Users are spreading violence, terror, false rumours, pornography and other hazard to national security, public safety and social order."

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On August 11, while the Chinese public attention is focusing on the powerful quake that struck Sichuan and Xinjiang, China's internet regulator - the Cyberspace Administration of China - announced that it's investigating China's top three internet giants for potentially violating the Cybersecurity Law.

Some of China's biggest tech companies are in trouble with the country's powerful internet regulator over activity on their social media platforms. [The agency] welcomes tips about violations of laws and regulations from the expanse of web users, and the online report center for harmful information operates 24 hours a day. The crackdown further spread to the booming live-streaming industry, which has become the core business for companies like Weibo.

There has also been a tightening of surveillance leading up to the Community Party's 19 National Congress later in 2017, when world attention will be on the world's second largest economy. The oversight of online media content should alert worldwide luxury brands, which now heavily rely on these social media apps to operate their business in China.

China Says Investigating Baidu, Tencent, Weibo for Breaching Cyber Laws