Academic journal article International Journal of Cyber Criminology

Regulation of Cyber Space: An Analysis of Chinese Law on Cyber Crime

Academic journal article International Journal of Cyber Criminology

Regulation of Cyber Space: An Analysis of Chinese Law on Cyber Crime

Article excerpt


Recent two decades witnessed a swift transforming of human and social landscape due to the pervasive use of digital networks, which connect individuals, institutions, businesses and agencies spreading over the world. The growing convenience for creating, depositing, processing, transmitting, and retrieving of information increased the quantity of data in both static and dynamic processes, improved virtual communication, developed social networks, and at the same time, risks, threats and dangers have also been un-ignorable problems.

Naturally, it was not strange that information systems in the background of Chinese history had been regarded as a modern instrument in an ancient territory. In fact, many countries were confronted with similar challenge at the dawn of the information age, when they were perplexed for how to benefit from the pervasive use of information systems while avoiding negative political and legal impact of unmonitored users, uncensored information, unchecked communications, uncontrolled activities and unsolicited visits. Such potentialities were also eroding footstones of the Chinese Great Wall.

Additionally, migration of criminal phenomena into information systems-facilitated cyber space has attracted increasing attention due to its high pace of expansion (Li, 2008; Li, 2009). The 1997 Penal Law of China (which was usually translated as Criminal Law, but, Penal Law should be more exact translation) provided fundamental criteria and guidelines for convicting and sentencing cyber criminals. With assistance of a series of other statutory laws and administrative regulations, a legal and regulatory system has been taking shape to suppress the spread of cyber crime of multiple forms, the so-called new century's pestilence, in cyberspace. The explosion of new and pertinent laws and regulations over the past two decades reflected society's concerns on the ancient phenomenon in a modernized context, and efforts to wrestle with it. Yet, it remained uncertain whether the current approach to deter and redress cyber crime would prove to be successful.

In the following sections, this article will review the process of establishing the legal framework on cyber crime in China, examine the features of Chinese laws and regulations tackling cyber crime, and analyze the policy for preventing cyber crime through control over cyber space in China. The article will also analyze the subject, the means, the mechanism and the main purpose of control over cyberspace, with review of its actual effects and defects.

1. Criminalization and Penalization of Cyber Crime

The "chance encounter" of communist China based on its ancient land and people with the information network had multiple potentialities of changing the politico-social order, which were unexpected and unprepared events in the late 20th century. According to official statistics, to the end of 2014, the number of Internet users in China reached 649 million and the number of mobile Internet users reached 557 million (China Internet Network Information Center, 2015). The use of mobile instant message apps had grown steadily, attracting 91.2% of the mobile Internet users (ibid.). Cyber security accidents and cyber criminal cases are both increasing stubbornly (The National Computer Network Emergency Response Technical Team/Coordination Center of China, 2014). Crimes and criminals come in all varieties on the Internet, ranging from the catastrophic to the merely annoying (Icove et. al., 1995). Therefore, defined broadly, the term "cyber crime" could reasonably cover an extensive variety of criminal offences, activities, or issues. In China, the term has been the same from the beginning, pronounced as "jisuanji fanzui" (computer crime). Now, the term more frequently used is "wangluo fanzui" (network crime). Nevertheless, there has never been an official term for it. The crimes promulgated in the Penal Law of China are more complicated, because the Penal Law itself did not give simplified names to any offences. …

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