Translation: The Internet is Not a “Lawless Land”

We all know the Chinese internet is censored.  Even with some important caveats, it is indeed very, very censored.  This so dominates the Western view of the Chinese internet (especially after the very high profile “Google exit” in 2010) that it is impossible to read articles like below outside the context of censorship.  I am by no means an internet censorship apologist, and firmly believe it unequivocally does serious detriment to the brand of China in the eyes of foreign firms considering investment (not to mention the stark violation of a basic human right) , but part of me wishes Facebook had a similar disclaimer at it’s login page.

This is front page of today’s People’s Daily (人民日报).

The Internet is Not a “Lawless Land”

Original article here

“Fantastic, but noisy…” many people agree this can describe the internet.  As a brand new platform, it brings people social interaction, information services, and the opportunity to exchange ideas, all huge benefits and conveniences.  Yet simultaneously, the internet leads to harassment, scams, malicious attacks, and the dissemination of misinformation and rumors.

With development this fast, with the simplicity of getting online, and with the virtual and anonymous world the internet provides, lots of people go online without thinking.  Yet we should recognize that the internet is not a “lawless land”.  Words and actions on the internet, intentional or unintentional, have real legal consequences.  Damage caused to individuals or society do not just exist in the virtual world.  Those who have been cheated, infringed, or attacked, suffer just as much damage as traditional methods.

An open China needs a civilized internet which operates under the rule of law.  Whether it is the regulatory authorities or internet users, we all need to cherish this platform.  We urge people to use orderly language in a proper manner.  Even though the internet may not be tangible, users should take responsibility for their words and actions and realize they have legal consequences.  Whether on or offline, this is all to build a foundation of public order and morality.

Original Chinese:

“是最精彩的,也是最嘈杂的……”这样形容互联网,是不少人的同感。互联网作为一个崭新的平台,给人们带来社交互动、信息服务、观点交流等极大便利,同时也给人带来许多困扰,商业欺诈、恶意攻击、造谣传谣,等等。

发展是这样快,上网是这样简单,再加上网络的虚拟和匿名,以致许多人“不假思索”就参与其中。应当意识到,网络世界不是法外之地。网上的言行也会有意无意触犯法律。因为,其对个人以及社会造成的伤害,也不是仅仅存在于虚拟世界当中。那些受到欺诈、侵权、攻击的受害者,痛苦并不比传统形式伤害减轻分毫。

开放的中国需要文明法治健康的网络世界,不管是监管部门还是广大网民,都应该珍惜这个平台。要求人人都用正确的方式说正确的话,是不现实的,但也应有法治意识,对自己的言行负责,这是必须的。因为不管是网上还是网下,这都是构建公序良俗的基础。

Words/phrases of note

嘈杂 (cáo zá)- Noisy, cacophonous
不假思索 (bùjiǎsīsuǒ)- Without thinking, to jump into something with no hesitation
公序良俗 (gōngxùliángsú)- Public order and morality

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