China issues new Net rules

The regulations, dated last month and posted Friday on an official website, are the latest attempt by the authoritarian government to retighten control over information that has been loosened as people use social media to pass on news and bypass traditional censorship.

The rules ban reporters and news media from reporting any information taken from the Internet or mobile phones without firsthand verification. Violators may be barred from working in media for five years, and serious infractions may lead to criminal charges.
A media regulator said the rules are needed to restore government prestige and media credibility following a spate of reports based on “false information” — often a euphemism for reports the government would rather suppress.

Credibility, the casualty
“Unverified reports are on an upward trend, and to a certain extent that has undermined the government’s image, disrupted the information order, reduced the credibility of the media and brought a strong social response,” the General Administration of Press and Publications, the agency that regulates printed media, said on its website.

In one sense, the regulations confront an issue media and governments around the world face in the Internet era: how to ensure the reliability of information, photos and video when ordinary people, not just professional media, can generate and circulate them instantly across cyberspace.

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