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Cyberspace watchdog reports ‘significant results’ in online platform regulation

China’s cyberspace watchdog said it has “continued to intensify online law enforcement” and achieved “significant results” in regulating internet platforms in the first half of this year.

The Cybersecurity Administration of China (CAC) summoned more than 3,400 platforms, of which 283 were fined, and removed 177 apps from local app stores for violating laws and regulations during the first half of 2022, according to an article published on the watchdog’s official WeChat account on Sunday.

So far this year, the CAC has conducted a number of crackdowns on the “chaos” in China’s live-streaming and short video market, has taken measures to regulate cyber violence, and has carried on the fight against fake traffic and internet ghostwriters, the article said.

It also closed a number of websites and accounts that spread pornographic content, engaged in illegal internet news services, set up so-called star lists to induce fans to pay and vote, and offered services such as ghostwriting student essays.

Beijing has tightened its control on the internet in the past few years, carrying out what it describes as a “clean up” of cyberspace. A Politburo meeting hosted by President Xi Jinping this week said leaders had concluded that the government would “normalise” these regulatory efforts over the tech sector and complete the “rectification” of tech platforms.

The CAC article also said regulators have held talks with representatives of Chinese microblogging platform Weibo and Tencent Holdings’ multipurpose super app WeChat over “illegal” content appearing on their platforms.

Online search engine giant Baidu and Microsoft’s own Bing service have been called out by the regulator for similar reasons. In December last year, the Chinese government ordered Microsoft to temporarily suspend the auto-suggest feature in its Bing search engine.

E-commerce platforms have not escaped scrutiny. Regulators held talks with five platforms, including Alibaba Group Holding’s Taobao Marketplace, JD.com, Pinduoduo, Xiaohongshu and Tencent’s WeChat Store, as some of the online stores on their platforms contained “content that violates law and regulations”. Alibaba owns the South China Morning Post.

In March, China’s internet regulator said it deployed a special task force to the offices of popular social media platform Douban, known as a haven for relatively liberal online discussion, to rectify “serious online chaos”. South China Morning

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