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China beefs up control over online news

News broadcasters will need a license from the Chinese government before they can publish news on online publications or social media.

LawrenLu, Getty Images

China's internet rules are about to get even tighter.

China's internet regulator, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), announced newly updated regulations yesterday that will require online news broadcasters to be licensed by the government to publish news on the internet and social media platforms. The new rules are effective from June 1.

China is notorious for its tight grip on online content. It put in place a censorship firewall, commonly known as the Great Firewall, which blocks popular sites such as Google, Twitter and Wikipedia, leaving Chinese internet users only with Chinese duplicates of the services such as Baidu and Weibo. The mainland is also set to release its version of Wikipedia in 2018. Today, the country ranks fifth from the bottom on the World Press Freedom Index, as compiled by Reporters without Borders.

The revisions are the first of its kind in 12 years, according to South China Morning Post, and encompass "websites, applications, forums, blogs, microblogs, public accounts, instant messaging tools and internet broadcasts." They come at a time when speculations are running high with regard to the possibility of China unblocking Google.

How tech companies are reacting to this remains to be seen. Google and Baidu declined to comment on the matter, although a Baidu spokeswoman said the company, which operates a news distribution service, obtained the license for internet news information services a few years ago.

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