Xinjiang enforces new website rules

Updated: 2015-01-09 10:04

By Gao Bo and Cao Yin(China Daily)

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Regulation increases digital transparency, bans religious extremism, terror-related content

Website operators offering instant communications, online storage or audiovisual sharing services in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region must now register their services or set up servers in the region.

The regional government issued and began enforcing a regulation on Internet services on Dec 24, Xinjiang Daily reported on Wednesday.

Website operators are also required to follow State rules on approval and registration.

Individual users must register with their ID cards before being able to publish information and organizations must provide licenses to site providers.

Website operators must also keep all information secure unless required legally to reveal it. They are forbidden to leak, falsify or damage information or to benefit from user information.

Operators and users must not edit, copy, broadcast or keep information related to violence and terrorism.

The regulation improves Internet security and development in the region, said Li Yuxiao, a specialist of Internet governance and law at Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications.

"It will not hinder local demands on Internet services, but only increase the security standard of operators," Li said. "More operators will start businesses in Xinjiang as long as there is demand."

Since the region launched a yearlong crackdown on terrorism on May 23, one day after a terrorist attack in Urumqi killed 39 people, the region has dealt with 44 cases involving explosives instruction via the Internet and 294 cases related to the distribution of violent audiovisual material. More than 18,000 documents, 2,600 discs and 777 other storage devices related to religious extremism were seized.

Anti-terrorism experts say the crackdown on terrorist-linked video and audio content on the Internet must intensify, as such information has fueled the spread of religious extremism and terrorist attacks in China.

Video and audio files released on the Internet by the East Turkistan Islamic Movement, a terrorist group listed by the United Nations, have spiked-from 32 files in 2012 to 109 in 2013. In the first half of 2014, the terrorist group released 72 such files.

With the help of their own and other terrorist groups' websites, free online storage facilities, file-sharing portals, social networking platforms and e-books, the movement promotes itself and spreads extremism via videos, said Yalikun Yakuf, deputy director-general of the Xinjiang public security department.

On April 1, the regional High Court, People's Procuratorate and Public Security departments issued a list of banned audiovisual products that popularize violence and terrorism, religious extremism and separatism, especially those that instigate holy war or teach how to make and use explosives and guns.

The announcement listed the transmission means of these products as websites, micro-blog accounts, voice-chat rooms, QQ and mobile social media apps such as WeChat. The transportation or mailing of such materials is also forbidden.

Websites that abide by the law should instead be promoted to youths, said Erken Shamshak, a teacher with the Law College of Xinjiang University. The country needs to defend cyberspace, leaving no room for religious extremism and rumors, he said.