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China forbids black market in online gaming accounts

China’s National Internet Information Office has revisited some of the government’s recent internet crackdowns, to put a stop to workarounds such as renting or selling accounts for online games to minors in order to circumvent the three-hours-per-week play time imposed by Beijing.

China’s lawmakers introduced the play time limits in August, restricting gaming to between the hours of 8pm and 9pm on Friday, Saturday and Sunday – with an extra hour allowed as a treat on public holidays.

Beiing’s stance is that it’s a necessary precaution to prevent gaming addiction. It believes that gaming does not reflect Chinese values, is unproductive, and anti-social.

The rules quickly sparked a black market for online gaming accounts – a black market Beijing is looking to eliminate.

According to the Central Cyberspace Affairs Commission (CAC), the Internet Information Office has also revisited recent rulings on instant messaging, news information, forums and communities, live webcasts, knowledge Q&As, life services, e-commerce, and online videos.

Specifically, they target the “reincarnation” of illegal accounts, meaning those that have been shut down must remain inactive and cannot be reregistered – at least for a determined length of time.

Accounts with fake names designed to resemble those of agencies or organizations, or falsely claiming to be run by members of certain professions, will also be getting attention. Fake fans of celebrities’ accounts will also be disallowed, addressing a space noted for aggressive behavior in which online gangs, consisting largely of teenage females, battle to assert their ardor for the celebrity of their choice.

Last of all, clickbait (referred to by the commission as “malicious marketing of Internet user accounts”) is getting some scrutiny as Beijing looks to reduce the prevalence and impact of articles that incite netizens’ emotions, or spread vulgar or provocative content.

“Accounts that distort and interpret national policies in the name of knowledge dissemination and interfere with public perception” are also on notice. Exactly who gets to decide if an account correctly interprets national policies has not been detailed. Merely asking probably counts as doing the wrong thing. ®


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