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Chinese Ban Internet Rumors

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 19, 2006 @07:38AM (#16499819)
    Nothing for you to see here. Move along.
  • by DiscWolf (976849) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @07:43AM (#16499867)
    Duke Nukem Forever is going gold next week.

    Oops, that one is going to cost me a lot of yuan.
  • by Channard (693317) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @07:43AM (#16499869) Journal
    Damn. I was hoping this could herald an end to bogus virus alerts and urban legends.
  • Rumor? (Score:5, Funny)

    by bky1701 (979071) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @07:45AM (#16499899) Homepage
    Are we sure this isn't just a rumor???
  • I wonder... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 19, 2006 @07:47AM (#16499915) do you do decide what is (or isn't) a malicious rumor? I'm sure the Chinese government knows very well.
  • by mgabrys_sf (951552) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @07:49AM (#16499935) Journal
    FUD, Trolling, Flames, Flame-Wars, dupe-posts, Bad Wiki repotage, and general spamming?

    I think we're going to need a rate card for all this...

    Oh the other hand, if more governments took up the cause, think of the revenue! The US could pay off it's national debt in 48 hours.


    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by KDR_11k (778916)
      The best part would be that /. couldn't afford to keep Zonk.
    • by phorm (591458)
      Yeah, I can think about a lot of spams that are complete b.s., most especially the variants on "company X will pay $10,000 for every forwarded email to you (or some sick kid with 3 heads and 18 toes in Nigeria, etc)" or "the post office is going to levee a charge of $0.10/email on each message sent to cover decreasing postage usage"

      Do those count as rumours, and would they be fineable? Unfortunately most of them I don't get from Chinese, but those that spread them need to be hit with a stupid-stick.
  • by cyberon22 (456844) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @07:49AM (#16499941)
    Ok gents, so what rumour are we starting this week?

    * China Buys, Loots Taiwan in Second Life

    * Wen Jiabao is also my father

    * Tangshan is bigger than Tianjin... at heart

    * Norman Bethune was gay

    * Shijiazhuang: the next Hong Kong
    • Ok gents, so what rumour are we starting this week?

      You forgot the most important rumour:

      Hu Jintao and Kim Il Jong discovered to be gay lovers when Condelleza Rice walked in on them during a recess at the multi-lateral negotiations. Rice then asked if she could join in this "diplomatic exchange which is helping to bring mutual understanding and cooperation in East Asia".

  • by tont0r (868535) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @07:52AM (#16499973)
    They would be branded at evil dictators for telling their citizens what to do,say,see and read. Maybe someone should sprinkle the magic democracy fairy dust in their eyes. -1 flamebait. :(
    • by KDR_11k (778916)
      Noone's calling China an evil dictatorship in a discussion because it's unnecessary, we all agree that they are. But they got nukes so that fairy dust (is that a nickname for some new WMD?) is too dangerous to deliver.
      • I think fairy dust is a name for crystal meth. You could try getting the whole chinese government hooked on it, but I think they learned that lesson in the Opium Wars... good idea though.
  • Not Really New (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 19, 2006 @07:56AM (#16500017)
    A good friend of mine who use to be a journalist in China talked about a few months about how the freedom of speech isn't as abridged as we'd like to think of it in the west. He had mentioned the biggest part was that you can't talk about people from a perspective that can ruin their reputation because it is a big part of their culture (as it is in many parts of Asia).

    Most of the time, this rule is the one invoked when censoring bad about the gov't, you are implicitly impugning someone. Its horribly implemented with no safe guards (especially since employers can be fined and employees can be jailed), but I can see why the sentiment is good.

    I've had my name slandered several times in the past over the internet. I don't know why the slashdot crowd gets up in arms when someone patents something by appending On The Internet, but if you state this in terms of other non-rights they get upset. I'm not stealing if I'm Stealing On The Internet. It isn't slander if I lie about someone and defame their family ON THE INTERNET.

    Most of the time, if speech like I've had to endure were put up in a newspaper, my rivals would have lost a house over libel. If they would have done it at a public gathering, it would have been slander. (and if they merely mention it to a neighbor, well, thats an out and out lie that I can handle on my own). People don't see the value of reputation anymore in the west. People are too selfcentered and care nothing about anyone else -- until it happens to them (for my part, I've never said anything online or in public that wasn't backed up by non-ambigious documentation and even then, I've tried to talk to the other party personally before I have done so).

    So I'm all for China stringing up anyone that ruins someone elses reputation through rumor. The US just passed the 300 Million mark this weekend. China has 1.5 Billion. Personally, I think we have enough idiots on this planet and wouldn't shed a tear about the few that want to throw unsubstantiated lies about others online. Have solid backing evidence...I'm all for it...Publish what you got. Pure out and out need to leave.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Ok, here is my rumor: I think the 1989 Tianenmenn crackdown by the Chinese army was a mistake and that the current government of China should publicly apologize.

      Will you shed a tear for me when I am locked up for spreading rumors?
      • by Skater (41976)
        That's an opinion, not a rumor.

        A rumor would be something that masquerades as a fact.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          Ok. "The Chinese government is truly a compasionate and caring group of people who are doing what they are for the betterment of the people of China rather than a pack of power crazed lunatics." Does that meet the standards of rumor?
    • by azuravian (850674)

      It isn't slander if I lie about someone and defame their family ON THE INTERNET.

      Your right, it isn't slander. It's libel. And, at least here in the US, the burden of proof lies with the Plaintiff, not the Defendant. You would have to proof that, not only was it a lie, but the person who said it knew it was a lie, did it with malicious intent, and that you suffered damages because of it. However, a rumor, is typically viewed to be opinion, not fact. Therefore, libel law does not apply (again, I'm ref

    • Re:Not Really New (Score:4, Insightful)

      by pete6677 (681676) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @09:55AM (#16501539)
      Of course there is free speech in China. You can say whatever you want, so long as it doesn't reflect poorly on the government, or impede any agenda of theirs. I guess it all just depends on how you define free and speech.
      • You can say whatever you want, so long as it doesn't reflect poorly on the government, or impede any agenda of theirs.
        How is that different than what is developing here? Oh wait, China: you get a fine. USA: you get hauled off to a secret prison.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by mr_mischief (456295)
          You have posted an Internet rumor. Please provide substantiation that actual Americans have been actually hauled off to actual prisons that are actually secret, or remit to the Chinese government 1000 yuan.
    • by Alchemar (720449)
      I am just wondering how you are suppose to get those facts, if you are not allowed to question the reputation of the person that would need to be investigated. If I can't question my goverment because it iplies that someone in the goverment is not doing something proper, how do I prevent them from doing what is improper?
    • by m0rph3us0 (549631)
      We have libel laws in the west. Yeah, I'd love to be able to fine anyone who says something I don't like either. The problem is that it moves the libel bar from protecting against false assertions of fact to opinions you don't like. A reptutation stands on its own. If someone thinks they were ripped off by you they should damn well be able to say so.
    • Exactly the line of reasoning I took. Depending on how it's written, and if enforced fairly, it's a great idea. We've gone way too far into the absurd end of freedom of speech. What the people who favor this fail to see is:

      1) It really can screw people up.
      2) There is almost a backlash that goes waaaay back the other direction.

      And they'll both be your fault if you're one of the folk pushing for "anything goes".

      You believe in anarchy of speech? Fine. Just remember, teh door swings both ways, and when it'
    • >Most of the time, if speech like I've had to endure were put up in a newspaper, my rivals would have lost a house over libel.

      Newspapers carry an impression of credibility from the fact that they're edited and are big established institutions. Posts on a message board are obviously a single person's output and most of us take them with grains of salt. If someone on Slashdot tells me that you did something bad, like starting a war of agression, I won't think less of you. If the Washington Post and LA Time
  • by Rik Sweeney (471717) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @07:56AM (#16500023) Homepage
    this article is a malicious rumour and you have been fined accordingly. Please pay 15,000 yuan.
  • OK. And in the US, you can sue someone into the ground for posting malicious rumors against you.
    • by MightyYar (622222)
      Yeah, but it's quite hard. IANAL, but my understanding is that you need to prove both that the rumor was false and that the intent was malicious. Occasionally you read about some celebrity suing one of those star gossip rags, but it hardly ever comes to anything. I'm guessing here, but I imagine that the burden of proof isn't placed on the government in China :)
      • by edmicman (830206)
        Which goes to show, if you post "rumors" online about someone that are true (malicious or not), then they aren't really rumors, are they?
      • It's called defamatory libel. S.298 of the CCC here in Canada :-)

        Basically the CCC defines "what isn't" libel

        - things that are resonably expected to be true
        - of public interest [safety/concern not voyeurism]
        - published within the boundaries of the laws of the land

        If you knowingly publish, cause to be published, or otherwise produce something in print, radio, newspaper, television, etc, that causes loss, contempt, or harm to another, you may be found liable for libel.

        Rumors are not specifically libel, if yo
      • by AviLazar (741826)
        "Tom has inceste with his sister".....Tom, who is a famous actor is spending millions of dollars fighting these rumors, and lost a recent contract in hollywood. Tom, says "hey i never had inceste with my sister, and my sister says that too...prove otherwise".

        But yea, China could be a bit more harsh...then again, I would probably think China would find something that someone said, but it is what they said that I would question - not if that someone really said it. "You said we look weird...that is defam
      • by gfxguy (98788)
        No, the anonymous poster is almost entirely wrong, IMO. Certainly libel and slander are wrong, but people need to be able to express their opinions - and opinions are also censored in China (unlike the U.S., where opinions are like... well, you know - and everybody's got one and no one's been thrown in jail for stating it as an opinion).

        You certainly can sue people for lying about you, you cannot sue them for expressing an opinion about you, and celebrities win these lawsuits all the time, almost always (I
        • by AviLazar (741826)
          BEIJING (Reuters) - Internet users in southwest China who spread malicious rumors online face fines of up to 5,000 yuan ($630) and possible detention, state media reported on Wednesday in the latest crackdown on dissent. Under legislation passed in Chongqing municipality, people who post "defamatory comments or remarks, launch personal attacks or seek to damage reputations online" will receive a warning or be fined between 1,000 and 5,000 yuan, the China Daily said. "Those whose rumors cause serious
          • by gfxguy (98788)
            It all depends on how it's phrased, which is not something I was arguing about. Simply claiming something to be a rumor needs to be enough to mitigate any penalties - it's already admitting up front that you have no evidence, that's it's a belief and not a fact.

            So, yes, it would be wrong for someone to say "gfxguy is into child porn," but for it to harm my repuation would require people believe it without proof. If someone is willing to believe something bad about me without proof then it's a failing on t
            • by AviLazar (741826)
              It all depends on how it's phrased, which is not something I was arguing about. Simply claiming something to be a rumor needs to be enough to mitigate any penalties - it's already admitting up front that you have no evidence, that's it's a belief and not a fact. So, yes, it would be wrong for someone to say "gfxguy is into child porn," but for it to harm my repuation would require people believe it without proof. If someone is willing to believe something bad about me without proof then it's a failing on t
              • by gfxguy (98788)
                I think we're on the same page, but it again comes down to how something is phrased and how the Chinese authorities are acting.

                If it's a rumor website, for example, or a column in a newspaper called "Rumor has it...", the person writing the column can still be fined. Look at the title of the slashdot article... the ban is on rumors, it doesn't make a distinction where someone is obviously stating an opinion or an unsubstantiated rumor or not.
    • ....rumours spreads you
  • We could out-source their rumor making, off shore it for them. I could make online rumors for the average mainland chinese for a fraction of the cost. They would be good rumors too, the kind you'd never get it you off-shored to India or Malaysia, quality rumors like "Low Ping has small nuts", or "Mai Ass is huge".
  • Chinese bans the internet
  • by maxume (22995)
    The Chinese government is disappearing the homeless and polical dissidents, and in a rather mysterious coincidence, is now providing more citizens than ever with government subsidized meat.
  • This is China (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 19, 2006 @08:02AM (#16500097)
    This is the country that calls anything that it doesn't like a state secret. You can get the death penalty for leaking a state secret. For example: onID=157 [] They really don't like it if you complain about things like police brutality. That makes you a terrorist. Police brutality is a state secret after all.

    So this new law will get you fined if you point out that a corrupt official who is supposed to only earn the equivalent of $10,000 is driving a new Mercedes.

    I titled my post "This is China". I am by no means implying that they are the only bad guys on the block. At least one other country has recently passed a law that removes people's right to due process and virtually legalizes torture.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by maxpublic (450413)
      Ah, I see. If a country in Europe does it it's protecting people from "hate speech" or "slander", but if China does it it's "censorship". Funny, as an American I'm having a hard time seeing that well-nigh invisible dividing line between the two. Do I need my EU-approved secret decoder ring for this?

      • by giorgiofr (887762)
        Eh, not *everyone* in Europe agrees with such laws. Even though I have to admit that most people do. Ah well, eventually when we realize we are living under a dictatorship I'll have the dubious pleasure to tell everyone "I told you so".
      • Funny, as an American I'm having a hard time seeing that well-nigh invisible dividing line between the two
        Every culture inculcates certain blind spots in its members. Congratulations on finding one of yours!
  • by DNS-and-BIND (461968) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @08:03AM (#16500099) Homepage
    Chinese people use message boards a *lot* more than Americans. You might browse a few boards, even be a regular, but (some) Chinese people are rabid about it. In a nation with people are used to not getting the whole story from the media, message boards are looked upon as a source of "true" information. Of course, this is taken advantage of and people post fake information in order to hurt people, hurt business, or just cause mischief. Online witch-hunts are fairly common, when someone will post a complaint about you and a mob of posters will go and look up all sorts of information about you, call your boss, harass your company's support line, send you nasty SMS to your phone, etc. Here is a sample of a few of these types of stories [].

    For China, this is especially worrisome, because not only is the social order hurt, but the government as well. They're mostly worried that a particularly outrageous false rumor might force the government to change in some way. Note that this was done by a single provincial government - the lower ranks of government are particularly threatened. The Chinese government isn't a single monolith - the different ranks of government can be quite independent of each other. This article should have been titled "Chongqingnese ban internet rumors". But, after living in China for a while, I no longer expect the news that I read to be accurate in any way, nor do I expect that people who give me the news to care that they are not accurate.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by CAIMLAS (41445)
      I no longer expect the news that I read to be accurate in any way, nor do I expect that people who give me the news to care that they are not accurate.

      That's not just China, buddy. That's a pretty prevailant thing worldwide these days. If not necessarily false all the time, just useless sensationalism or heavily partisian.

      People here (in the US) aren't skeptical enough.
  • No rumors? 1 billion blogs fall silent. Is it okay if they just copy American rumors and circulate those?
  • by Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (949321) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @08:11AM (#16500181)
    I'm too lazy to look it up, but some months ago Slashdot had a story about how an internet rumor in China just about destroyed the lives of 2 people. An angry husband posted that his wife was having an affair with another man he had a grudge against. None of it was true, but the good Chinese netizens who read it didn't bother to question it. After all, if someone said it on the internet, it must be true! They found out where the man and woman worked who were accused of having an affair and people showed up to harass them for an affair that they weren't even having. The husband eventually admitted it was all a lie, but only after a lot of harassment was done towards his wife and the other guy. Similar stories have been reported in other Asian countries where angry netizens decided to start harassing people over articles they read about online that they had no way of knowing whether or not they were even true.

    I don't know why so many people believe everything they read online. It's not just in Asia. Some years ago I worked as a civilian computer programmer for the US Air Force. Roughly around 1995 or so, at my former base basically everyone got an internet connection on their PC and they believed every rumor that came out. If someone said it in email, it must be true because nobody would ever lie in email, right? One of my former co-workers used to send me copies of emails he got where I would see over 100 people on the CC: line about some wild rumor or another that they were aboslutely convinced was true. My favorite was the story about some guy waking up in a bathtub full of ice minus his kidneys. All of these emails would say to send the message to everyone you knew to warn them about whatever the rumor was. After a year or so, it got so out of hand that senior management basically had to pass an edict forbidding people from sending this stuff out to massive distribution lists on the base and they finally got it under control. Even today, my retired uncle believes every single negative rumor he reads. I used to reply to his emails and send him links to refuting his emails, but I just gave up when he told me that it wasn't his job to verify the truth of what he passed on. He was just passing on potentially "helpful" information and it was up to recipient to determine if there was anything to it or not.
    • by PsiPsiStar (95676)
      I had the same fight with my dad. After a few years of arguments, he's finally into checking snopes. But it still amazes me that some people don't care if the information that they're passing along is right or not. They don't consider the costs of negative information (time used up, opportunity costs, degraded signal to noise ration, etc.)
  • ...MySpace reported a massive fall in traffic from Chinese ISP's......
  • In other news (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Bush suspends [] Habeas corpus. Coming to your area: gulag!
    • Dude,

      If George Bush violates human rights then I am against it. If China violates human rights then I am against it. I am for human rights. Respect for human rights is not a team sport where you should root for your side no matter what. Its about absolute standards.

      I think you are trying to drag Bush into this because you just can't pass on any chance to bash him, even if it means apologizing for China and providing cover for them to behave like animals.
  • "John Spartan, you are fined one credit for a violation of the verbal morality statute."
  • If it would keep down the number of e-mails starting with "FWD:fwd:FWD:fwd:fwd:FWD: I normally don't send this, but, this has to be true!" that find themselves into my inbox, I just might support this in the U.S.!

    *I kid, I kid...*
  • by feucht35 (982967)
    There goes Digg China then...
  • I first read it as: (Chinese Ban Internet) Rumors

    but when I RTFM I see it is actually: Chinese Ban (Internet Rumors)
  • If a law allows the government to lock up people that "behave immorally", soon the government will stretch the meaning of the word 'immoral' from 'having sex on the streets' to 'showing a patch of skin'.

    The real problem in fining people who make "defamatory comments or remarks, launch personal attacks or seek to damage reputations online" is that this is obviously also open to such a flexible interpretation (albeit a bit more subtle than the above example).

    Subjective law allows for abuse and therefore alway
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Greyfox (87712)
      That's kind of the point in a dictatorship. You create a ridiculous number of laws, so many that every citizen is at any given point probably breaking 2 or 3 of them. Then you selectively enforce the laws against citizens who have fallen from favor in the eyes of the government. Naturally you also want to randomly enforce them against random citizens as well so you can keep up a low-grade environment of anxiety. That keeps most of them in line, too worried about breaking some law they've never heard of to s
  • Maybe I'm missing something, but don't a lot of countries have libel / slander / defamation laws?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by LindseyJ (983603)
      Maybe I'm missing something

      Yeah, the part about China being a tyranical Communist dictatorship.
    • This isn't about slander and defamation laws that exist in the real world.

      This is about provoking the slashdot, "free speech no restrictions", "can't contol us", "I hate China" crowds.

      The real concern IMO isn't the theory of punishing liars, it's the massive potential for abuse.
      This potential for abuse of restricting legitimate speech is the fundamental reason for promoting free speech.
  • Finally (Score:2, Funny)

    by Plutonite (999141)
    An internets free of women.

    • by dptalia (804960)
      How dare you! Now I'll have to tell the whole /. community about what you do to your dog!
  • Maybe the news about the law itself is a rumour. So the Beijing Govt can go fine itself.
  • by faqmaster (172770) <> on Thursday October 19, 2006 @09:07AM (#16500877) Homepage Journal
    Chinese ban internet rumors. Americans ban internet gambling. What's next? Some fool nation will ban internet pornography? Oh, wait....
  • by Tei (520358)
    Theres information you want to be distribute, for the good of the whole society, that are distributed ONLY by rumors. A democracty may survive with rumorus banned, because there are lot of stuff that can be official. But a tirany like the china one, I think will absolutelly need rumors, because most rules are not writted.
  • An individual can face fines of 1,000 to 5,000 yuan ($630) and an organization can be fined between 3,000 and 15,000 yuan."
    I heard that for individuals, the fines can be as high as 25,000 yuan, and they shoot your dog and make you use AOL for up to one year.
  • This just in (Score:3, Insightful)

    by patio11 (857072) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @09:36AM (#16501287)
    China, yep, still a communist dictatorship. This is news for geeks in the same sense that "Today, Microsoft and Bank of America made a lot of money, and many dragons were slain in WoW... ON THE INTERNET" is.
    • Modern China is neither communist nor dictatorship. It's closer to fascist oligarchy. It's dramatically different than what it was 15 years ago. Economic freedoms have increased dramatically, but the civil rights conditions haven't improved much.
  • I guess we'll find out if CmdrTaco or dptalia get fined...
  • It is a municipality that is at the same hierarchical level as a province.
  • by Grendel Drago (41496) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @11:43AM (#16503369) Homepage
    I heard that Wang Yang, Communist Party of China Committee Secretary of Chongqing province, can't have an orgasm unless he kills a dog.

    That's just what I heard.
  • Moo (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Chacham (981)
    In one sense this is good. Rumors can be a very bad thing in how they can destroy a person's life. However, what if the person is mentioning the rumor for discussion? The article mentions the language say "defamatory comments or remarks, launch personal attacks or seek to damage reputations online". It seems to be keeping it to personal levels. I hope that is the way it works out legally.
  • ...and I can tell you there's no such thing as Bar-tender rum hours around here...
  • Posting malicious rumors is libel and can leave you in an actionable position, landing you in civil court if someone is mad enough at you and can figure out who you really are. I'm assuming the way this is handled in China is that it is more like a criminal offense (since the punishment can include detention). It's hard to compare since Chinese legal system [] is rather unique, sort of a combination of philosophy and Civil law [].

    But the point, before I got side tracked, is that having a monetary punishment for l

The trouble with doing something right the first time is that nobody appreciates how difficult it was.