Reporting and Policing Internet Crimes in China
Internet-related crimes are covered by a number of regulations in China and are becoming increasingly important as e-commerce develops in China. This article looks at the Chinese regulatory authorities that are in charge of investigating Internet-related crimes.
Reporting Computer Hacking, Fraud and Other Internet-Related Crime
The primary national law enforcement agencies that investigate domestic crime on the Internet include the Ministry of Public Security (MPS) and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) and Internet Society of China (ISC).
1. Ministry of Public Security (MPS)
The MPS is in charge of acceptance of the following computer and Internet-related crimes:
1) use of the Internet to incite against national security;
2) use of the Internet for cult activities;
3) use of the Internet to fabricate or distort facts, spread rumors, disturbs social order;
4) Internet-based pornographic websites, web pages; provide links to pornographic sites; disseminate pornographic information; or organize a pornographic performances;
5) Internet gambling;
6) use of the Internet for theft, fraud and extortion;
7) use of the Internet to insult or slander others; fabricate facts to slander others;
8) use of the Internet to steal, alter, delete other’s e-mails or other data; violate civil freedom and privacy of communications;
9) network intrusion and attacks of sabotage;
10) intentional making of or spreading of computer viruses and other destructive programs;
11) interrupting the operation of the network or Internet service violating laws and regulations;
12) deletion, modification, adding of operations to, the data and applications storage, processed or transmitted in information systems, resulting in serious consequences for date users of systems.
Citizens who are aware of the above-mentioned crimes can report them on a special website of the MPS at http://www.cyberpolice.cn, and they have the right to check the results of case investigation. When they ask the MPS about the status of the cases reported by them, the MPS has an obligation to inform them – this is a significant development for China as usually investigations and case management are handled in secret. Once the MPS completes the investigation and takes action, it should inform the complainant. Citizens also can call 110 to report any of the above crimes.
2. Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT)
The MIIT set up an “Internet Inaccurate and Negative Information Reporting and Acceptance Center” in April 2008. This center is mainly in charge of the acceptance of the reporting of malicious software, websites, blogs, bbs or instant messages involving pornography, violence, virus, fraud or slander, and the rubbish emails including illegal information or virus.
Citizens who are aware of the above-mentioned crimes can report them on the website of the Center at http://www.12321.cn or call 12321.
3. Internet Society of China (ISC)
The ISC founded a special China Internet Illegal Information Reporting Center (CIIRC) on June 10, 2004. The center consists of four departments, namely the report department, the monitoring department, the public relations department, and the general affairs department, with a total of 41 staff members (as of 30 June 2011).
The key functions of CIIRC include receiving public reports and complaints through the website www.net.china.cn about illegal and harmful information on the Internet within the borders of China; assisting the law enforcement and administrative authorities to handle illegal and harmful information on the Internet; promoting the self-regulatory initiatives in the Internet news and information service industry; developing the public education initiatives regarding Internet laws and online ethics and collaborating with international counterparts and contributing to the efforts of solving problems of common concern regarding the Internet in the international arena.
Reporting Intellectual Property Crimes
The primary national law enforcement agencies that investigate domestic intellectual property crimes include: the State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO), the National Copyright Administration of PRC (NCAC), the State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC), General Administration of Customs (Customs) and Ministry of Public Security (MPS).
1. State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO)
Patent infringement and relevant crimes can be reported to the SIPO or local intellectual property office for administrative enforcement. SIPO provides a streamlined enforcement procedure, similar to the trademark enforcement procedures offered by the State Administration of Industry and Commerce.
2. National Copyright Administration of PRC (NCAC)
Copyright piracy (involving literary works, artistic works, software, movies and sound recordings) can be reported to the NCAC which is the State Council copyright administration department in charge of the national administration of copyright. Citizens can file a reporting on the special reporting site http://www.shdf.gov.cn/cms/html/190/1952/List-1.html. The NCAC has traditionally been extremely busy and understaffed, which has led to it being very particular as to which cases it chooses to enforce. It is hoped that this will change in the near future.
3. State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC)
Online trademark infringement (including counterfeiting activities) should be reported to the SAIC or local AICs, by filing proper written documents and materials, such as an application, certificate of incorporation/good standing, power of attorney, trademark registration certificates, as well as sufficient evidence. If the reporting is accepted by the AIC, they will do on-the-site investigations and carry out raid actions.
4. General Administration of Customs (Customs)
When products involving trademarks, copyright or patent infringement are about to be exported abroad, the facts of the relevant case can be reported to Customs, by providing an application, relevant certificates and evidence proving the existing of the infringing facts. Customs will initiate corresponding protection actions, such as detaining the infringing goods and imposing fines.
5. Ministry of Public Security (MPS)
Besides the above departments, all kinds of intellectual property crimes can also be reported to the MPS or local Public Security Bureaus. The MPS or local Public Security Bureaus will accept such cases if they meet the definitions of a crime under the PRC Criminal Law.
It may come as a surprise to many, that China has developed an extensive number of laws regarding the regulation of Internet activities, and enforcement by a number of different government departments. There is no doubt though that despite these laws, Internet crimes in China are on the rise, as more and more consumers log in and use the Internet for various activities. It is hoped that China will continue to adequately staff the enforcement authorities so that Internet crimes are managed efficiently.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Yu Du and Matthew Murphy
Yu Du is an Associate in the MMLC Group. Matthew Murphy is a Partner in the MMLC Group. The MMLC Group is China's IT Law Firm of the Year for 2011 (Corporate International).
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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.