China’s Internet Censor Sets Blockchain Firms in its Crosshairs

China has reputation for censoring many things online for its citizens. From Facebook, Google, Amazon to much more has been subject to China’s censorship rules. And now, the Chinese internet censor has set their eyes on blockchain firms next. The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) published “Regulation for Managing Blockchain Information Services” on Thursday. This publication defines new laws and regulations that wrap blockchain technologies and defines how they are to be treated across the internet in China. The new rules will be applied starting from February 15.

The publication defines blockchain information service providers as ‘entities’ that offer information services to the public using blockchain technology via desktop sites or mobile apps. These regulations are the Chinese government’s iconic reaction to anything that it feels is not in their control. The document contains 23 articles. Each further expanding on what is regulated by these rules, what these regulations are and what penalties will be.

An article in the document states that blockchain service providers will have to register with the CAC in 10 working days after starting to offer their services. The document further explains that blockchain startups will have to register their names, the types of service they provide, the industry fields they target and even their server addresses. The document further goes on to ascertain that these blockchain entities or nodes are prohibited from producing, duplicating, publishing or disseminating information or content that is already prohibited by Chinese laws.

The document states that companies that do not comply with their rules will receive fines from the CAC ranging from the equivalent to $737 to $4,420 depending on the severity of the offense. These laws are being introduced as a way to curb the trend of Chinese residents going around the Chinese censorship laws through blockchain-powered technologies. The initial draft came to light back in October 2018.

To provide some context, a famous instance that irritated the Chinese authorities was when a student of the Peking University, Yue Xin said her school forced her to drop info disclosure request on an ex professor’s sexual harassment case. Her letter got removed from social media so people put it on the blockchain. Another instance was when a censored article listing the crimes of pharmaceutical company Changsheng Biotechnology was also posted on the Ethereum blockchain.

The new rules are supposed to help the Chinese government gain more control over such incidents when residents try to defy official orders and try to get out of the powerful regime’s control. They are sure to invite new criticism for the Chinese government’s obsession with control over their citizens.