China: New rules of personal rights and interest protection in the Internet realm

Last Updated: 5 May 2015
Article by Qu Miao

The Supreme People's Court (SPC) promulgated Rules of the Supreme People's Court to resolve Issues concerning the law application to the Trial of Civil Disputes of Personal rights Infringement through Information Networks (Rules) on press conference on October 9th, 2014, and the Rules took effective the next day. The SPC also published eight typical cases related to the Rules at the same time. The promulgation of the Rules and cases caught extensive attention and heated up the discussions on the internet and media. This article interprets the Act from the perspective of how to protect the legitimate rights and interests under the act as follows:

  1. Corporations, other organizations and natural persons all have grounds to protect their rights under the Rules

Article 1 of the Rules provide clearly that the Rules only cover civil disputes regarding the infringements of personal rights and interests by utilizing information networks, the above mentioned personal rights and interests include right of publicity, business name rights, right of reputation, right of honor, portrait rights and right of privacy. It can be interpreted that both corporations and natural persons may protect their rights under the Rules. For the business entities, the personal rights and interests protected under General Principles of the Civil Law including business name rights, right of reputation and right of honor etc.

In addition, the SPC's spokesman also confirmed that besides the protection of corporations and natural persons, the Act is equally applicable to the protection of personal rights and interests of the other organizations and groups.

  1. Tortfeasors, re-printers, internet service providers and abettors all can be sued

Article 3 of the Rules provide specifically that the plaintiff can sue the internet users and related internet service providers who committed the tort separately or jointly. The plaintiff also can sue internet service providers separately only when it is unable to identify the identities of the internet users who actually committed the tort.

Furthermore, Article 10 of the Rules provides that people who reprint the infringing information may bear the corresponding legal liabilities according to their mistakes and the extent of the mistakes. The primary factors to determine the presence of the liabilities and the types of the liabilities include:

  • the duty of care undertaken by re-printers in accordance with its nature and the scope of the action;
  • the likelihood of infringement to the personal rights of a third person by his or her action; and
  • whether any substantial amendment was made to reprinted information, or whether title of the article was added or altered, leading to the likelihood of severe inconformity to the contents of the article or misleading the public.

Accordingly, the SPC's spokesman also mentioned that celebrities with greater social infl uence like Big V on the Internet shall assume a greater duty of care for their re-posts on the press conference.

Besides, according to the Article 15 of the Rules, "Where a person employs, organizes, abetts or helps to publish or reproduce information online that infringes personal rights of a third person, and is requested by the tortfeasor to bear joint liabilities, the people's court shall support such requests." It means the tort abettors, reprinters may also be sued for joint infringement.

  1. The plaintiff may acquire the information of the infringer from internet service providers by court action

According to Article 4 of the Rules, the plaintiff may sue internet service providers separately only when it is unable to determine the identities of the internet users who committed the tort, if the internet service providers claim that the infringing material is provided by the users, then the plaintiff may request the court to order the internet service providers to provide information of the infringer. If they refuse to provide such information without reasonable cause, the people's court may take punishment measures in accordance with the corresponding provisions concerning the refusal of cooperation during the investigation or execution in the Civil Procedure Law. The plaintiff may add the alleged user/infringer as codefendants after acquiring this information.

This provision is intended to solve the universal problem that it's difficult to take legal action as the identities of the users on the internet are hard to identify. Previously when the plaintiff requested the infringer's information from the internet service providers, the internet service providers were usually reluctant to disclose due to the concern of privacy protection or breach of contracts etc. It's diffi cult to balance the interests of all parties. According to the Rules, the plaintiffs along with the internet service providers will be able to solve this problem in the court presided legal proceedings.

  1. Take-down Notice sent to the internet providers by the plaintiffs shall meet the requirements

According to Article 36 of the Tort Law and Article 5 of the Rules, upon the discovery of the infringing content, the plaintiff may send notice to the internet service providers, and request for removal; but the notice must be sent in written form or in a way consistent with the means published by the internet service providers, indicating the IP address for actions, or any other relevant information for the purpose of accurately locating the infringing contents, as well as the reason for the request for removal.

According to this provision, when the plaintiff sends a notice to the internet service providers, he/she needs to pay attention to the format of the notice, make sure it is consistent with the specifi ed requirements, and keeps the proofs of the submission of notices, as well as any replies received from the internet service providers for future use.

  1. Corporations may sue if an internet tort leads to the loss of confi dence by the public or impair the social assessments of the its products and services

According to Article 11 of the Rules, if libeling or slandering of the internet users or internet service providers leads to the loss of confidence in business entities by the public, and impair the social assessments of the companies' products and services, the business entities can still sue the internet users and the internet service providers.

Libeling and slandering of business entities or their products and services may also be within the scope of the Anti-Unfair Competition Law. But in general, they require the infringer to be qualifi ed as business undertakers. As it is often difficult to determine the identities of infringers in the internet realm, there are diffi culties to enforce the right.

On the contrary, there are difficulties to claim against consumers for infringement, because "Interpretation of the SPC on Certain Issues Concerning Trial of Cases Involving Rights to Reputation" provide specifically that "the criticism or comment of a consumer on the quality of products or service of a manufacturer, operator, or seller shall not be deemed as an act of infringement to the rights to reputation of a third person. However, if a consumer takes advantage of the criticism or comment to libel or denigrate and damage the reputation of the manufacturer, operator, or seller, the act of the consumer shall be determined as an act of infringement to the rights to reputation".

After the promulgation of the Rules, entities may have the right to protect their rights against internet infringement despite the identities of the infringers.

  1. Different choices of territorial jurisdiction

The Rules also provide flexible choices of territorial jurisdiction. Article 2 of the Rules stipulates that "A litigation instituted against the infringement of personal rights through information networks shall be ruled by the people's court at the place where the tort was conducted or at the defendant's domicile. Places where a tort was conducted include the location of terminal equipment such as the computer used by infringers, while places where infringement results occur include the domicile of the infringed person."

Thus the plaintiff may choose the court of his domicile, the place where the computer used for committing the tort is, the place where the internet service providers are, or the domicile of the alleged users/infringers according to the different situations.

  1. Illegal removal of posts won't be recognized by the law

Previously due to the difficulties of locating the users, and the time and cost of legal proceedings, it is common that the infringed person tries to resolve problems through private paid service, like paying off the professional hackers or internet service providers to take measures such as removal, screening, blocking, and etc.

Article 14 of the Rules stipulates specifically that "If the infringed person reaches an agreement with the alleged infringer or the provider of network services where one party pays remunerations and the other party provides services such as removal, screening and blocking, the people's court shall hold the agreement to be void".

  1. The maximum damages of CNY 500,000 legal compensation available at discretion of court

According to Article 16 and Article 17 of the Rules, the plaintiff may receive the legal remedy under the current law in internet rights protection including formal apology, elimination of adverse impact, restoration of reputation and compensation for loss etc.

In addition, Article 18 of the Rules also provided expressly that the cost incurred by enforcing rights (include attorney's fee and investigation costs etc.) shall be included in the damages recoverable by the plaintiff. The people's court may determine a legal compensation below CNY 500,000 at its discretion according to the facts of the case.

Moreover, depending on the situations, the plaintiff may also request for injunctive relief before litigation or during litigation against the defendant according to the provisions of Chapter 9 of the Civil Procedure Law, which include property preservation and evidence preservation. These kinds of remedy measures are undoubtedly very practical and important for disputes arise from personal rights and interests.

In sum, the enactment and the promulgation of the Act demonstrate the aggressive steppingin of the courts in increasing network disputes, and the efforts of the courts to provide a fair and reasonable dispute resolution scheme for the parties on the Internet. It is promising that the chaotic situations that people have to solve internet disputes via private effort, industrial self-discipline and administrative complaints would be improved. In future enforcement, the infringed may protect their legitimate rights and interests effectively by seeking relieves from legal proceedings.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Mondaq Advice Centre (MACs)
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.