China To Give Cash Rewards Up To $86,400 To People Who Report Porn To Authorities

An logo reading 'Censored' splashed across a laptop display.
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China has decided to raise the cash reward paid to citizens who will report porn to authorities, government regulators announced on Friday, November 16.

According to a report by the Daily Mail, Chinese citizens who will flag down pornographic and “illegal” online and print publications can be rewarded with cash up to 600,000 yuan, which is the equivalent of $86,400. According to previous guidelines, the reward was up to 300,000 yuan ($43,200). The changes will be in effect beginning on December 1.

In China, content deemed “illegal” has a broad definition, but in general it includes anything that “endangers national unity,” “leaks state secrets,” and “disturbs social order.” According to the report, the term “illegal” content is also sometimes used by authorities to “punish or silence Chinese dissidents and rights campaigners.”

The new rules were published by a bureau under China’s top media regulator, and were enforced as part of Beijing’s effort to ramp up controls on content.

The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) said earlier this week that it had “cleaned up” some 9,800 accounts on Chinese social media platforms because they were spreading “politically harmful” information and rumors.

According to the report, CAC severely reprimanded the popular social media platforms WeChat and Weibo on the basis of “negligence” and “irresponsibility.” On Thursday, November 15, CAC published some new rules under which all online platforms in the country are required to save user data — including chat logs, IP addresses, types of devices, and so on — by the end of November.

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The gathered data would be used in “security assessment reports” which the CAC — and Chinese police — can request from social media platforms whenever required. Per the report, the new requirements are part of the CAC’s efforts to impose stricter controls over websites that influence public opinion. These sites include blogs, chat groups, and Weibo — which is the Chinese equivalent of Twitter. These platforms were all forced to roll out real-name registration in 2012.

Last year, Weibo was punished by the the government for spreading pornography. According to a report by China Daily, the country’s National Office Against Pornographic and Illegal Publications “launched a new round of its national campaign against the production, sale and distribution of illegal publications and online erotic content that could affect juveniles.”

Investigations carried out by the authorities revealed that Weibo started providing audio-visual programs in February 2015 without obtaining a license, and such content contained obscene videos. Consequently, Beijing’s administrative law enforcement fined Weibo a sum of 30,000 yuan — or $4,359 — and ordered it to immediately take down obscene content.

Following the incident, the office asked all online providers in China to “learn lessons from Weibo’s case, tackle pornography and shut down accounts with illegal content.”