My Site Remains Illegal in China

Notice: You are reading an illegal site in China.

Today, I received an email from Hichina Corp. (Chinese site). I am their client for domain names. They reminded me that I report and register for my web site – yes, for my personal web site.

China State Concil Order 292

The order (unofficial English translation) came into effort two years ago, namely, Oct 1, 2000. (via the explaination of Paul McKenzie in his article China’s State Council Issues New Rules Governing “Internet Information Services”)

Article 3. There are two types of Internet information services, namely business-oriented and non-business oriented services.

Business-oriented Internet information services refer to service activities such as the provision of information or Web page creation for online users via the Internet for compensation.

Non-business oriented Internet information services refer to the service activities of providing public and shared information to online users via the Internet without compensation.

My site belongs to the category of nonbusiness oriented site. In the regulations issued by Shanghai government, it is explicitly expressed that all personal web site, as long as it has a dedicated domain name, is required to carry out filing procedures.

Article 8. All those who engage in non-business oriented Internet information services shall carry out filing procedures at the telecommunications administration authority at the level of the province, autonomous region or municipality directly under the central government or at the authority in charge of information industry under the State Council. When carrying out filing procedures, the following materials shall be submitted:

(1) basic particulars concerning the sponsoring unit and the person responsible for the Web site;

(2) address of the Web site and its services;

(3) where services fall within the scope set forth in Article 5 hereof, the approval documents already obtained from the relevant competent authorities.

As I understand, it is my responsibility to file my site since my site operates in China.

Article 4: No one may engage in Internet information services without obtaining a license or completing filing procedures.

Article 19: If any person engages in non-business oriented Internet information services without completing the filing procedures or provides services exceeding the filed scope of services in violation of these Measures, the telecommunications administrative authority at the level of the province, autonomous region or municipality directly under the central government shall order correction within a prescribed time limit. In the event of a refusal to correct, the Web site shall be ordered to close.

Sure. I need to file my web site, as stated by the Order 292. I decided.

With whom I need to register? A question not easy to answer

The first problem is to locate the government authorities who accept the application. I asked Shanghai Informaiton Administration, and Shanghai telecom, and any telephone I believe is right. After about about ten calls, I finally figured out I need to send filing application to Shanghai Communication Adminstration (Chinese site). I begin to wonder, why it is so difficult to follow the Order.

Unrealistic requirements

On the web site (Chinese site), I found it is almost impossible for me or anyone who like me to meet the requirements to file. The Order issued by Shanghai Communication Administration (SHCA) requires:

  1. All web sites, including personal web sites, as long as it has an independent domain name, are required to file. Actually, it is impossible. The domain names registered is boosting. If I understand it correctly, every domain name owner need to go to SHCA to register for the domain name again in SHCA again, which is a exteremely large number. I don’t know the exact number, but I believe it is far beyond the processing ability of the Administration. It is even more sure if you know the process for filing – it is all done manually now.
  2. An annual review of the license is required for each site. The time ranges is Dec to Jan of next year. I am afraid the annual review itself will be a big problem if all domain name owners rush the administation in the two month window.
  3. The application should be sent to SHCA 60 days before the launch of the web site. I garentee no one will wait for two months just for this license and postpone the launch of a personal web site.
  4. Detailed information for at least two persons responsible for the BBS is required. Really hard for me. According to the definition, the comment system included in MovableType is also type of BBS. It requires to person who administrating it. I have to write down my name and my GF’s name in this column.
  5. A dedicated Information Security Specialist is required for any one who provide information service on Internet. An Information Security Specialist must hold a certificate named “Computer Information Network Security Specialist Training Graduation Certificate” issued by Shanghai Policy. I never heard of the certificate and don’t want to hire any body for my personal web site, but I am obviously not a “dedicated” Security Specialist. Again, is it possible for any company in Shanghai who has a web site to attend a single training? I believe it is only joking, not a very serious requirement.
  6. All web site need to post a logo at the right-bottom corner of your web site. This one is very reasonable. If you want to see the logo, you can check http://cn.yahoo.com. Yahoo! China is always a very good citizen in China. I found it always stand up and follow any regulation from the government recently. Just when Google is banned, Yahoo! switched to Baidu.com.
  7. Any organization or person who has aquired a license SHALL NOT link to any site without the license. It is another intersting requirement. It seems our good citizen Yahoo! will have trouble, since I don’t think all the site listed in its directory has a license.
  8. No web site will pass the annual review when: 1. it is infected by virus for many times with bad results, or 2. it is hacked for many times, 6. it links to any ICP without an ICP license. It seems no web site in the world can pass the annual review unless it has only one required logo.

After carefully reviewed the regulation, I found myself hopeless to get a license. Later, I decide to have a try, even though my site didn’t meet any of the requirements.

The final call – no money, no registration

When I call SHCA to ask for procedures to get a license, the operator told me to download the Word documents from their web site first. It is very cool the government is going electronic. Good job.

Later, she told me that I need to mail it to SHCA. Fax, email or another other method is not accepted. OK. I will send it out. I decided.

Then, the girl continues: “We will inform you to come to SHCA to hand in the money”.

Money? What money? Do I need to spend money on that? The answer is simple, it is free to registeration, but 500 RMB (60 USD) is required to publish a notice on newspapers. No monay, no registration.

Now it seems I am totally hopeless to get a license. I don’t want to pay the money, it is more expensive than my domain name + my hosting + ……

Most Importantly, Is the License that Imporant?

The Order 292 came into effect on Oct 1, 2000. It claimed that only 60 days time window is given before any unofficial web site is forced to stop operation. After 60 days, nothing happened.

On Nov 25, 2002, SHCA issued an order with strong voice: all sites without the license will be disconnected after Jan 31, 2001. ISP MUSTNOT provide service to these web site. Nothing happened.

On May 22, 2002, SHCA issued a third order that all site who has no ICP license should be shutdown by SHCA before June 10, 2002. After that deadline, nothing happened.

Actaully, I am very confused when I am facing this embarrasing situation. I am reviewing an Order that is impossible for me to follow. I guess 99% of personal web site cannot reach the requirements and not all business-oriented site can reach it. The order has some problem in itself.

To be or not to be, it is a question

Pardon me if I am too serious on the regulations. I am analysising it in a very interesting manner. If I did take the regulations seriously, I may have three choices:

1. Shutdown the web site immediately.

– or –

2. Do not use a domain. Register a free space without a domain name. The regulations say, such personal web sites don’t need to file.

– or –

3. Follow the requlations. Here are the steps to do it.

  • Shutdown the site for 60 days
  • Hire a dedicated “Information Security Specialist”
  • Send him to the training
  • Pay for the training so he can get the certiciate (or I quit my job to be a dedicated Security Specialist for my site)
  • Hire two more person who will be responsibile to monitor the comments posted and delete anything the law or the order does not permit. – I have only 1 comments every two or three days.
  • Filling out the form and send it to SHCA.
  • Hand in 500 RMB and wait my site appears in the long list of web site on major newspapers.
  • Get the license, if everything goes smoothly.
  • Remove my link to any page out side China – they don’t have an ICP license yet.
  • Remove my link to all my friends in China. I don’t remember they have a license yet.

After that, my site is legal, it will not have the risk to be shutdown “immediately”. After that, I am already mad.

23 thoughts on “My Site Remains Illegal in China”

  1. Who ever think out the “China 8 steps to legalise a domain name” is a super bureacate.

    BTW, isn’t China is the world oldest country that pratice bureacate till today?

  2. u rebel man u rebel, but ive been using this site for my assignments at school, it gives good information but u need to have more information on the illegal stuff in your illegal website ..thanx man cya

  3. You are a true god. There, I hope I don’t get you in trouble!

    But seriously, I admire your courage and conviction.

  4. Just tell them I gave you permission. *_*

    Seriously though, bureaucracy is the cancer of a society. It is good it is decreasing in China even though it still remains too high. This is a ridiculous requirement.

    By the way, it seems they got better at blocking foreign sites like geocities and it is more difficult to use proxies to get around it. maybe you could post info/opinion on that.

    Love your website. Keep it up.

  5. My God! Does this apply to me? Who is covered? Chinese citizens or Chinese residents? (I’m a resident but not a citizen). What happens if you change cities? I started in Beijing then moved to Hainan. Are there procedures for transferring from one jurisdiction to another? Do you have to go through it all again? You’ve got me really worried!

  6. Wow, this is really interesting! You’ve made me realize JS how bureaucratic China’s government is. Now I know what to expect once I am there. Thanks!

  7. dear

    i want to get a company that deals on computer or other things like geting job to do i want u to help me or your company with thisn point of view i need this just becos i was in a state job finding and feeding if i may see or help from you i will be much happy for all

  8. I was thinking about releasing a verison of my site in simplified Chinese, for mainland China. I’m located in the US and have a free service that generates ad revenue. What do you think the chances are that the Chinese will block my site with their great Internet wall of China, if I go in without an ICP license? There’s no way I could afford it.

  9. Shanghai Telecom went through with their word, and turned off all the ip addresses of the servers which contained sites without ICP licences.

    As is typical here, without any warning…

    To maximise the screw you value, they did this on a Friday evening, ensuring that people would have at least 2 days downtime.

    Of course this was like shoot first, ask questions later as servers contain hundreds of sites…

    We ended up putting a new server in on Monday morning after begging the ISP for another IP address.

    Only a few thousand other servers in the same predicament.

    They turned back on our ip address on Wednesday after faxing them all the clients ICP licences.

    Only a few clients lost to this debacle. What have we learned from this?

    Have backup servers on hand, and think about moving everything to Hong Kong where at least they give you some warning before killing your business.

    More info on http://www.shanghaiguide.com

    Lawrence / shanghaiguide.com

  10. Hi

    Your blog i great, we have some links to it on our swedish website about China (www.kinaportalen.se) and it will surely be more. Keep up the good work!

    We are however, anxious, that we also will be banned from chinese internet. That would make life hard, as we live here… Well see

    It seems wikipedia is bannedm right?

  11. wangjianshuo’s ‘blog’ is illegal in China? It’s not supposed to have Chinese audience, so this is irrelevant. The whole purpose to have this blog is carrying out ‘foreign-oriented propaganda’, to begin with. Don’t try to portray yourself as a rebel, blothug wrong!

  12. have a look at picidae.net, if you dont allready know about it – its a free, easy and open source way to bypass the chinese firewall.

  13. Don’t know how 2 start a thread, so I’ll add it post here. Pls don’t miss out on the biggest scandal so far in the new year of the rat: The Edison Chen photo scandal a.k.a. “陈冠希事件 / 香港艺人裸照事件”: http://zonaeuropa.com/20080209_1.htm

    If this site is blocked, check Google or Baidu for other sites covering this story.

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