less cyber violence or less public opinion supervision

context: The introduction of the Guiding Opinions of the judiciary will undoubtedly help to better combat cyber violence. But some lawyers are worried that it could be alienated into a tool to hit netizens who expose the wrongdoings of corrupt persons and the platforms that facilitate the dissemination of such information.

SPC (Supreme People's Court), SPP (Supreme People's Procuratorate), and MPS (Ministry of Public Security) jointly issued 'Guiding opinions on penalising violations and offences of cyber violence (draft)' on 9 Jun 2023 to solicit public opinion.

The draft Guiding Opinions positively respond to the difficulties encountered in judicial practice, says Zhang Yu 张宇 Beijing Jingshi Law Firm lawyer. Compared to the judicial interpretation of criminal cases of online defamation issued by the judiciary in 2013, the Guiding Opinions prescribe more comprehensively the offences that may be involved in cases of online violence. It is worth noting that the long-debated network security management obligations of platforms are also highlighted. Platforms that cause the mass dissemination of illegal information may be held liable for the offence of refusing to fulfil information network security management obligations.

Deng Zihua's 邓自华 WeChat public account called 'Criminal law talks' argues that the most valuable part of the Guiding Opinions lies in the provisions for improving the litigation process, including

  • implementing the legal provisions for public security organs to assist in evidence collection
  • lowering the conditions for insult and defamation cases to be publicly prosecuted
  • strengthening supervision of filing insult and defamation public prosecution cases

There are also practitioners who are not optimistic about the Guiding Opinions. Lyu Fangzhi 吕方芝 Hunan Tiandiren Law Firm lawyer cautions that if the status quo of power being not restrained is not changed, the targets of punishment of the Guiding Opinions will mainly be citizens who criticise and make suggestions to government officials. This is exactly what happened with the implementation of the 2013 judicial interpretation, says Lyu.