Cyberspace Administration of China
国家互联网信息办公室
Formation2014; 8 years ago (2014)
TypeSupra-ministerial policy coordination and consultation body
PurposeCyberspace policy and regulatory oversight
Location
  • Beijing
Director
Zhuang Rongwen (庄荣文)[1]
Parent organization
Central Cyberspace Affairs Commission
SubsidiariesChina Internet Investment Fund
Websitewww.cac.gov.cn
Cyberspace Administration of China
Simplified Chinese国家互联网信息办公室
Traditional Chinese國家互聯網信息辦公室
Literal meaningState Internet Information Office
Office of the Central Cyberspace Affairs Commission
Simplified Chinese中央网络安全和信息化委员会办公室
Traditional Chinese中央網絡安全和信息化委員會辦公室

The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) is the central internet regulator, censor, oversight, and control agency for the People's Republic of China.[2][3][4][5] The CAC comprises the government State Internet Information Office (SIIO) (Chinese: 国家互联网信息办公室) and the party Office of the Central Cyberspace Affairs Commission (Chinese: 中央网络安全和信息化委员会办公室).[6][7]

The CAC is the majority owner of the China Internet Investment Fund, which has ownership stakes in technology firms such as ByteDance, Weibo Corporation, SenseTime, and Kuaishou.[8]

Structure

The CAC is involved in the formulation and implementation of policy on a variety of issues related to the Chinese Internet. It is under direct jurisdiction of the Central Cyberspace Affairs Commission, a party institution subordinate to the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party. The Director of both the state and party institutions is Zhuang Rongwen (庄荣文), who serves concurrently as the Deputy Head of the party's Central Propaganda Department and deputy director of the state's State Council Information Office.[9]

The CAC includes the following departments: an Internet Security Emergency Command Center, an Agency Service Center, and an Illegal and Unhealthy Information Reporting Center.[10]

The efforts of the CAC have been linked with a broader push by the Xi Jinping administration, characterized by Xiao Qiang, head of China Digital Times, as a "ferocious assault on civil society." This has included forced confessions of television journalists, military parades, harsh media censorship and more.[11]

The CAC also maintains some censorship functions, including issuing directives to media companies in China. After a campaign to arrest almost 200 lawyers and activists in China, the CAC published a directive saying that "All websites must, without exception, use as the standard official and authoritative media reports with regards to the detention of trouble-making lawyers by the relevant departments."[11]

Lu Wei, until 2016 the head of the CAC, was previously the head of the Beijing Propaganda Department, and oversaw the Internet Management Office, a "massive human effort" that involved over 60,000 Internet propaganda workers and two million others employed off-payroll. It was this experience that assisted General Secretary Xi Jinping in selecting Lu as the head of the newly formed Internet regulator, the CAC.[12]

Policies

Among the areas the CAC regulates include usernames on the Chinese Internet, the appropriateness of remarks made online, virtual private networks, the content of Internet portals, and much more. The CAC was behind a warning given to the major web service Sina Weibo, which was threatened with closure unless it "improved censorship." The CAC said that Sina Weibo had failed to properly police the comments made by users on the Internet.[citation needed]

According to a draft Cyber Security Law, made public on July 6, 2015, the CAC works with other Chinese regulators to formulate a catalog of "key network equipment" and "specialized network security products" for certification. The CAC is also involved in reviewing the procurement of network products or services for national security considerations. Data stored outside of China by Chinese companies is also required to undergo CAC approval.[13]

According to state media outlet Xinhua, the CAC was responsible for issuing a "voluntary pledge" that was intended to be adhered to by the major Internet portals in China about the comments that would or would not be allowed to be made on their website. Among the categories of comments that were banned, included were those that "harmed national security," "harmed the nation's honor or interest," "damaged the nation's religious policies," "spread rumors, disturbed public order," and "intentionally using character combinations to avoid censorship."[14]

In 2015, the CAC was also responsible for chasing down Internet users and web sites that published "rumors" following an explosion in the port city of Tianjin. Such rumors included claims that blasts killed 1,000 people, or that there was looting, or leadership ructions as a result of the blast.[15] The same year, the CAC debuted a song that Paul Mozur of The New York Times called "a throwback to revolutionary songs glorifying the state." The song included the lines: “Unified with the strength of all living things, Devoted to turning the global village into the most beautiful scene” and “An Internet power: Tell the world that the Chinese Dream is uplifting China.”[16]

The CAC has been given the responsibility for reviewing the security of devices made by foreign countries.[17][18]

In May 2020, the CAC announced a campaign to "clean up" online political and religious content deemed "illegal."[19]

In July 2020, CAC commenced a three-month censorship action on We-Media in China.[20]

In December 2020, CAC removed 105 apps, including that of Tripadvisor, from China's app stores that were deemed "illegal" in a move to "clean up China's internet".[21]

In 2021, CAC launched a hotline to report online comments against the Chinese Communist Party.[22]

Reception

Further information: COVID-19 misinformation by China

The CAC has been accused of assisting in cyber attacks against visitors to Chinese websites. The anti-censorship group GreatFire.org provided data and reports showing man-in-the-middle attacks against major foreign web services, including iCloud, Yahoo, Microsoft, and Google. The attack would have required the ability to "tap into the backbone of the Chinese Internet."[23]

Gibson Research Corporation attributed some of the attacks against GitHub to the CAC's operations. In the attack, ads hosted on Baidu were able to leverage computers visiting from outside China, redirecting their traffic to overload the servers of GitHub. "The tampering takes places someplace between when the traffic enters China and when it hits Baidu's servers," Gibson wrote. "This is consistent with previous malicious actions and points to the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) being directly involved..."[24]

A 2020 investigation by ProPublica and The New York Times found that CAC systematically placed censorship restrictions on Chinese media outlets and social media to avoid mentions of the COVID-19 outbreak, mentions of Li Wenliang, and "activated legions of fake online commenters to flood social sites with distracting chatter".[25]

See also

References

  1. ^ Gan, Nectar (September 20, 2018). "Cyberspace controls set to strengthen under China's new internet boss". South China Morning Post. Archived from the original on April 23, 2021. Retrieved April 23, 2021.
  2. ^ Cheung, Jennifer (14 July 2015). "China's 'great firewall' just got taller". openDemocracy. Archived from the original on 6 September 2015. Retrieved 17 August 2015.
  3. ^ Goh, Sophie Yu, Brenda (2020-11-13). "China drafts rules to govern its booming livestreaming sales industry". Reuters. Archived from the original on 2020-12-10. Retrieved 2020-11-29.
  4. ^ "China orders Baidu to clean up low-brow content". CNBC. Reuters. 2020-04-08. Archived from the original on 2020-12-11. Retrieved 2020-11-29.
  5. ^ "Chinese forum exposes cracks in the internet that could splinter wide open". Radio France Internationale. 2020-11-24. Archived from the original on 2020-11-29. Retrieved 2020-11-29.
  6. ^ Cyberspace Administration of China launches official website Archived 2020-03-11 at the Wayback Machine, English.gov.cn, 31 Dec 2014
  7. ^ Web of Laws: How China's new Cyberspace Administration is securing its grip on the internet Archived 2019-06-20 at Archive-It, HKFP, by David Bandurski, 7 May 2017
  8. ^ "China's communist authorities are tightening their grip on the private sector". The Economist. 2021-11-18. ISSN 0013-0613. Retrieved 2021-11-22.
  9. ^ "庄荣文任中央网信办主任 徐麟不再担任". 人民网. 2018-08-01. Archived from the original on 2020-02-22.
  10. ^ "中央网信办所属事业单位面向社会公开招聘-新华网". news.xinhuanet.com. Archived from the original on 2015-10-24. Retrieved 2015-10-25.
  11. ^ a b Qiang, Xiao (September 18, 2015). "Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) Hearing: Urging China's President Xi Jinping to Stop State-Sponsored Human Rights Abuses" (PDF). CECC. CECC. Archived (PDF) from the original on December 8, 2015. Retrieved November 30, 2015.
  12. ^ Cairns, Christopher (January 1, 2015). "Seizing Weibo's "Commanding Heights" Through Bureaucratic Re-centralization" (PDF). Dissertation. Archived (PDF) from the original on December 8, 2015. Retrieved December 2, 2015.
  13. ^ Norton Rose Fulbright (July 2015). "Cyber security in China" (PDF). Norton Rose Fulbright. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2016-03-04.
  14. ^ "29家网站签署《跟帖评论自律管理承诺书》". news.sina.com.cn. Archived from the original on 2015-12-08. Retrieved 2015-11-30.
  15. ^ "China Cracks Down on Websites Accused of Spreading 'Rumors' About the Tianjin Blast". VICE News. 2015-08-17. Archived from the original on 2015-12-08. Retrieved 2015-11-30.
  16. ^ "China's Internet Censorship Anthem Is Revealed, Then Deleted". Sinosphere Blog. 2015-02-12. Archived from the original on 2015-09-08. Retrieved 2015-10-21.
  17. ^ Mozur, Paul; Perlez, Jane (2016-05-16). "China Quietly Targets U.S. Tech Companies in Security Reviews". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on 2020-01-16. Retrieved 2020-04-22.
  18. ^ Wang, Yifan (2020-04-27). "China Toughens Procurement Rules for Tech Equipment". The Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Archived from the original on 2020-04-27. Retrieved 2020-04-28.
  19. ^ "The State Cyberspace Administration of the People's Republic of China launched the 2020 "Qinglang" special action for a period of 8 months" (in Chinese). People's Daily. May 22, 2020. Archived from the original on 2020-05-31. Retrieved 2020-06-18.
  20. ^ Yu, Junjie (29 July 2020). "To safeguard national security, it is time for China to build up nuclear deterrent". Xinhua News Agency. Archived from the original on 2 August 2020. Retrieved 30 July 2020.
  21. ^ Soo, Zen (December 9, 2020). "China orders removal of 105 apps, including TripAdvisor". Associated Press. Archived from the original on December 9, 2020. Retrieved December 9, 2020.
  22. ^ Cadell, Cate (2021-04-11). "China launches hotline for netizens to report 'illegal' history comments". Reuters. Archived from the original on 2021-04-13. Retrieved 2021-04-13.
  23. ^ "An Open Letter to Lu Wei and the Cyberspace Administration of China | GreatFire.org". en.greatfire.org. Archived from the original on 2015-06-30. Retrieved 2015-10-21.
  24. ^ Gibson Research Corporation (March 31, 2015). "Security Now! #501" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on September 6, 2015.
  25. ^ Zhong, Raymond; Mozur, Paul; Krolik, Aaron; Kao, Jeff (December 19, 2020). "Leaked Documents Show How China's Army of Paid Internet Trolls Helped Censor the Coronavirus". ProPublica. Archived from the original on December 19, 2020. Retrieved December 19, 2020.