New IM rule covers foreign media

Updated: 2014-08-19 06:50

By Cao Yin(China Daily)

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Foreign media organizations must obtain a license, as their Chinese counterparts are required to, if they want to open a public account and publish news on instant messaging tools in China, an official said on Monday.

Under a new rule, only the public accounts of news agencies, news websites and institutions with online news and information service licenses can publish and forward political news.

The rule, which was issued by the State Internet Information Office and took effect on Aug 7, also applies to foreign media, said Xu Feng, head of the office's mobile Internet department.

Foreign news providers must obtain a license to publish or forward political news on instant messaging products, such as WeChat, Xu said.

"The rule covers all public accounts, no matter where they are from," he said. "After all, foreign media should abide by Chinese laws and regulations."

Liu Ruisheng, an associate researcher specializing in journalism at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the rule is aimed at regulating instant messaging tools instead of restricting them.

"Foreign agencies, especially those publishing political news, should comply with the procedures to open a public account. It's reasonable and necessary," Liu said.

He said rumors and messages that confuse the public are appearing in cyberspace, "so it's time to clean it up and provide clear steps for public accounts to publish news".

Wang Sixin, a law professor at the Communication University of China, said the license rule for public accounts is also aimed at enhancing media responsibility and credibility.

"News agencies should be more responsible for what they publish in the information age, as this news can be spread quickly and reach many people," Wang said.

He said the government had strengthened management of websites and micro-blogging services in recent years to reduce the amount of false information appearing on the Internet.

A foreign news agency, which declined to be named, said it had obtained a license for its public account.

(China Daily 08/19/2014 page3)