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China vows tough measures on cyber crime

China's Chief Justice Zhou Qiang vowed Thursday tough measures on cyber crime according to the law, amid efforts to cleanse the Internet space.

"The cyber space must not be allowed to descend into a lawless realm," Zhou said when delivering a report on the work of the Supreme People's Court (SPC) last year.

He said efforts were made to safeguard Internet order and cleanse the cyber space in 2014.

Zhou said the SPC enhanced crackdown on offenders who infringed upon other citizens' privacy using information and Internet technologies, thus protecting personal information security. The chief justice cited the case of two GlaxoSmithKline-linked investigators -- the first of its kind involving foreigners in China -- as an example.

In August last year, Briton Peter Humphrey and his American wife Yu Ying Zeng were sentenced to two and a half years and two years in prison, respectively, for illegally obtaining private information of Chinese citizens.

The couple were hired by GSK China as private investigators in 2013.

According to Zhou, Chinese courts have seen a 58-percent rise in the number of criminal cases last year that involved illegally obtaining citizens' private information.

He did not provide an exact number of such cases, only saying that Chinese courts concluded some 1.02 million first trials in criminal cases last year and convicted 1.18 million people, up 7.2 percent and 2.2 percent, respectively.

Meanwhile, the chief justice said efforts have been made to safeguard Internet order and cleanse the cyber space in 2014.

The SPC has made decisive efforts to crack down on Internet rumors, Zhou said, pointing to jail verdicts on two Chinese rumormongers.

Qin Zhihui, known as "Qinhuohuo" in cyber space, was sentenced by a Beijing court to two years in imprisonment for defamation and another 12 months for affray, for defaming Chinese celebrities and the government.

Prosecutors had said Qin's posts on Sina Weibo, China's Twitter-like service, included one claiming that Beijing had granted 30 million euros in compensation to a foreigner who died in a train crash in east China's Zhejiang Province in 2011.

The rumor was reposted 11,000 times and commented on 3,300 times, with Qin's fabrication inciting anger over apparent disparities in how foreigners and Chinese people were compensated after the accident.

In another case, Dong Rubin, who uses the online name of "Bianmin," was sentenced to six and a half years in prison in July for illegal business operations and "creating disturbances," after he posted fake information and comments that distorted fact concerning a Mekong River attack in October 201 by a Myanmar drug ring in which 13 sailors were murdered.

The widely-circulated contents tarnished the image of the government and seriously disturbed the social order, his verdict read.

Zhou said the SPC has also helped formulate criminal litigation procedures for illegal manufacturing and sale of "fake base stations" and for other cyber crimes.

It will continue to crack down on information- and Internet-related crimes in accordance with the law in the coming year, the chief justice said while spelling out work priorities of the SPC in 2015.


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