Preface – Internet Law in China


By the nature of the subject, any study of Internet law is a formidable task. Why go through all the trouble of writing a book on a subject that is constantly evolving and remarkably complicated? I can offer a brief answer: because I could and because I should. During the past decade, China has built up a relatively complete system of laws and regulations governing the Internet; and it is now possible to write a whole book on China’s Internet law relatively easily. That is why I say I could. The reason I should do it is twofold: first, China’s Internet industry has experienced dramatic growth, and China’s regulation of the Internet has become the focus of public discussion, but internationally, there is no book that comprehensively explores the legal doctrines and principles that apply to the Internet and related activities in China. As an academic person, I think I should fill this gap; and second, I have a more ambitious goal, that is, through clarifying the principles of China’s Internet law, I hope I can contribute to the development of China’s regulation of the Internet and eventually the improvement of China’s rule of law system. I am not sure that I can achieve this, but I think I should have a try.

The book provides a structured and up-to-date introduction to the law governing the dissemination of information in a computer-mediated world in China. It stresses the practical applications of the law that are encountered by all individuals and organizations in Chinese cyberspace, but always in the light of theoretical and jurisprudential underpinnings. Specifically, the book comprises five chapters. Chapter 1 introduces the legal system in China. Chapter 2 starts by providing basic information on the Internet, and then discusses how the Internet is controlled in China. Chapter 3 focuses on how China regulates Internet speech that may harm national security, social order, and personal reputations. Chapter 4 examines how China protects online privacy, especially how it deals with such issues as online data collection, online profiling, and online data protection that are unique to the Internet. Chapter 5 investigates how China protects copyright, trademarks, and patents in the context of the Internet, especially how various intellectual property infringements have emerged in cyberspace and how they have been addressed by China’s existing and new laws and regulations. It should be noted that the book focuses mainly on Internet law in mainland China. Areas including Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan are part of China, but they have a different legal system. Internet-related laws in such areas are thus not covered in the book.

As the first text on Chinese Internet law, this book will be particularly valuable for legal, business, and communication professionals, academics, and students who are concerned with the regulation of the Internet and related activities in China.