China’s State Council Information Office released updated regulations on 2 May that will restrict individuals from writing and reading news stories from individual blogs and social media, including Sina Weibo and WeChat. Under the news rules, users will be required to obtain a permit before writing or distributing news on social media.
The updated version of the “Provisions for the Administration of Internet News Information Service” will take effect on June 1, 2017.
Along with restrictions on news reporting, the rules will also require individuals to submit real identity information when subscribing to a news information service.
The original provisions were introduced in September 2005 to restrict online news outlets from writing and publishing original news stories from “illegitimate” sources, in an effort to force all online portals to distribute news only from news agencies licensed by Internet News Information Service Work Units.
Despite the many layers of censorship that China is so well known for, the digital media environment has given rise to a robust industry of individuals doing serious news reporting online. The country’s various social media platforms have enabled more and more independent writers to use blogs, Weibo and WeChat public platforms to write news features or news commentary. Some independent journalists or commercial media outlets have even managed to support their work with readers’ cash tips and commercial ads.