Thursday, October 27, 2011

China's Internet Users Targeted in Online Rumour Probes

Via BBC -

China is intensifying restrictions on internet use after official reports revealed that three people have been "punished for spreading false rumours" online.

Authorities say they are carrying out inquiries into other suspected cases.

The news comes just over a week after Communist Party leaders agreed a list of "cultural development guidelines".

They include increased controls over social media and penalties for those spreading "harmful information".

The Xinhua news agency quotes regulators as saying that efforts will be stepped up "to stop rumours and punish individuals and websites spreading rumours".

It says a university student was detained after being accused of posting a fake news story about a man killing eight village chiefs in the south-western province of Yunnan.

It goes on to report that a website editor was issued with a warning after publishing a story about an air force fighter crash without confirming the facts.

And it says that a Shanghai resident was held in police custody for 15 days after accusations he had posted a falsified income tax document online.

The agency says China has 485 million registered web users.

"We have seen a tightening of control under the Hu Jintao government," said Sarah McDowall, Asia-Pacific regional manager at IHS Global Insight.

"Officials are particularly worried by the rise in popular protests and will have observed the fall of Gaddafi last week. With China facing a leadership change next year, the government feels it cannot soften its stance."

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