Voice of America reported that, starting on November 1, China will launch a set of new laws. One new law states that those who spread Internet “rumors” could serve up to seven years in jail. The article said that the move could use the law as a tool for the current authorities to maintain stability while suppressing freedom of expression and the rights movement. A concern was also expressed as to whether the official media and local governments would be subject to legal actions if they were the ones to spread rumors. The article quoted comments from several rights activities. One activist said that the reason that any rumor would spread on the Internet was that there is a lack of freedom of expression, information, and the press in China, while the authorities are simply using legal measures to target those who wish to voice their opinions. Another activist said that the guideline for defining rumors was set by the authorities who try every means to trap those who criticize the government. The article also quoted people who questioned whether the official media would be charged with spreading rumors if they were the ones to make false reports about accidents or disasters.
Source: Voice of America, November 1, 2015