On Thursday, January 10th, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), the country’s internet censorship agency, published a new set of laws entitled ‘Blockchain Information Service Management Regulations.’ The regulations will take effect on February 15, 2019.
Under the regulations, blockchain service providers cannot “produce, duplicate, publish, [or] disseminate” content that has been banned by the Chinese government.
The regulations describe blockchain service providers as “entities or nodes” that provide public information services through blockchain platforms that are accessible through desktop or mobile sites. Once the regulations take effect, these “entities or nodes” will be required to register themselves with the CAC within ten working days of when they begin offering their services to the public.
This means that companies or individuals who offer blockchain services or run a node for a blockchain network must register with the agency.
Upon registering, blockchain companies must provide their names, server addresses, service types, and server addresses. Companies who do not comply with the regulations will be penalized with fines ranging from the equivalent of $737 to $4,420 depending on the severity of the offense.
A draft of the regulations was first published in October of last year.
— Katie (KE) (@keKatie) October 26, 2018
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China’s Control of the Internet Grows Increasingly Authoritarian
The new regulations are the latest development era of attempted control of blockchain platforms in China. In the past, blockchain technology has been used by residents of China as a way around the country’s strict internet censorship laws.
One instance of this occurred during the recent #MeToo movement when individuals wrote their stories into the Ethereum blockchain so that they could not be altered or censored. Another instance of this took place in July when a censored article listing the crimes of pharmaceutical company Changsheng Biotechnology was also posted into the Ethereum blockchain.
blockchain VS censorship in China: Peking University student Yue Xin said school forced her to drop info disclosure request on an ex-prof’s sexual harassment case. Her letter got removed from social media so people put it on blockchain “no one can change it, everyone can read it” pic.twitter.com/Kj98RwnuKF
— Krystal Hu (@readkrystalhu) April 23, 2018
It is because of events like these that the Chinese government has regarded blockchain technology as a threat to the social status quo for quite some time. Previous to the CAC’s new set of rules, the government instituted regulations that require users of blockchain services to verify their identities. According to a report by The Verge in late December of 2018, “typically anonymous blockchain users will now have to reveal themselves,” which may deter activists and politically-minded individuals from speaking freely on any blockchain.