The new requirements apply to all companies providing online services that may affect public opinion or "mobilize the public to…
The new requirements apply to all companies providing online services that may affect public opinion or “mobilize the public to participate in specific activities”, according to a notice published on Cyber Administration on China’s website earlier this month.
Businesses must now start logging activities for users posting in blogs, microblogging, chat rooms, short video platforms, and webcasts.
In view of the need to protect national security and social order, the Chinese regulator said that companies must be able to verify users’ identities and keep records of important information such as call logs, chat logs, activity and network addresses.
Officals will conduct inspections of business activities to ensure compliance. But Cyber Administration did not clarify under what circumstances companies would have to hand over logs to authorities.
According to their Terms of Service, messaging and social media platforms WeChat and Weibo must already hand over user information to the Chinese government upon request.
The new requirements affect some of China’s largest technology companies and new launches, including Tencent, Alibaba, Baidu (BIDU) and ByteDance. It is unclear whether the new rules also apply to international companies, such as Apple (AAPL), whose iMessage service is available in China. Apple did not respond immediately to a request for comments.
Beijing has recently intensified the review of internet businesses.
Earlier this month, Cyber Administration closed nearly 10,000 social media accounts and said they “trampled on laws and regulations” and “damaged the healthy ecology of public opinion online.” In April, the authorities ordered ByteDance to turn off a popular social media platform where users often shared joke, video and GIF files, saying that many of the posts were vulgar and showed “bad public.”
China heavily forces its domestic internet. The country’s major censorship system regularly deletes all posts or discussions about topics that Beijing considers sensitive, including criticism of President Xi Jinping, the massacre of Tiananmen Square or news that can spark mass protests.
Most of the world’s most popular social media and internet platforms – including Facebook (FB), Google (GOOGL) and Twitter (TWTR) – are banned in China.
But Google has investigated ways to build up its presence in the Chinese market. And Facebook recently told US legislators that, although there are no current plans to enter China, every effort would make it take into account free expression and integrity.
Serenitie Wang and Steven Jiang contributed to this report.