This article is part of the series on China’s regulatory policy updates, reports and advertising laws. If you have missed out on any of the articles from this series, you can click the following titles to read more – Anti-Monopoly Crackdown, PIPL, Advertising Law, October Update, November Update, December Update, January Update (XiaoHongShu Bans 39 Brands), Medical Advertising, March Update, IP Location Regulations, Didi US$1.2 Billion Fine, Measures for Security Assessment of Data Export, Provisions on the Administration of Internet Pop-Up Information Push Services.
"Regulations on the Protection of Minors Online" which came into effect on January 1, 2024, in China. This regulation marks a new stage in the legal construction of online protection for minors in the country. It focuses on prominent issues and stipulates the improvement of the online protection system for minors, the promotion of minors' online literacy, the strengthening of online information content construction, the protection of minors' personal information, and the prevention and treatment of minors' addiction to the internet.
Key points of the regulation include:
Online platforms with a significant number of minor users or significant influence on minors must fulfil specific obligations, such as considering the healthy development of minors in their design, development, and operation, and conducting regular assessments on the impact of their services on minors' online protection.
The state encourages and supports the production and dissemination of online information that promotes socialist core values, advanced socialist culture, revolutionary culture, and excellent traditional Chinese culture.
It prohibits the production and dissemination of content harmful to the physical and mental health of minors, such as obscenity, pornography, violence, cults, superstition, gambling, self-harm, terrorism, separatism, and extremism.
Online service providers must establish mechanisms to prevent and manage cyberbullying and protect minors from exposure to harmful content.
Key Features of the Regulations
The regulations cover a wide range of areas, including content regulation, privacy protection, and measures against addiction and cyberbullying. This comprehensive approach ensures that various aspects of minors' online safety are addressed.
Responsibility of Online Platforms
A significant aspect of the regulation is its responsibility on online platforms. These platforms are required to design and operate their services with the well-being of minors in mind, which includes regular impact assessments and establishing a minors' protection system.
Promotion of Positive Content
The regulations encourage the creation and dissemination of content that promotes positive values and culture. This is crucial in shaping a healthy online environment for minors.
Prohibition of Harmful Content
Strict measures against content that could harm the physical and mental health of minors are a cornerstone of these regulations. This includes content related to pornography, violence, and other harmful themes.
Global Context and Relevance
The Chinese approach to online protection for minors is part of a larger global trend. Many countries are grappling with similar issues and are looking for effective ways to protect minors in the digital space. The Chinese model could serve as a reference point for other nations seeking to enhance their legal frameworks for online safety.
Challenges and Opportunities
Balancing Protection with Freedom
One of the challenges in implementing such regulations is balancing the need to protect minors with their right to information and freedom of expression. Finding this balance is crucial for the healthy development of minors.
The effectiveness of these regulations largely depends on the technology used to enforce them. This includes the development of sophisticated algorithms and AI tools to monitor and filter content.
Given the global nature of the internet, international collaboration is essential. Sharing best practices and technological solutions can enhance the effectiveness of such regulations worldwide.
The "Regulations on the Protection of Minors Online" in China marks a significant step in the journey towards creating a safer online environment for minors. The regulation is a comprehensive legislative effort to safeguard minors in the digital environment, emphasizing the shared responsibility of society in protecting minors online. As digital technology continues to evolve, legal frameworks and protective measures must evolve alongside it. By focusing on the well-being of minors, we can ensure that the internet remains a space for positive growth and development.
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