China's new streaming rules can be showstopper for content creators

Live-streaming app, Blued
Photo: Screengrab

A decree on online live-streaming services in China orders service providers and content creators to register with the authorities to prevent the spread of unwanted content.

The regulation by the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) stipulates that service providers should be well staffed, so that they have the ability to monitor and stop live-streams if needed.

Online live-streaming had grown rapidly, but some streaming platforms had been found to disseminate pornography, violence, rumours or fraudulent content, which ran counter to socialist core values and adversely affected young people, said a CAC official to explain the regulation, which took effect in December.

Live-streaming apps are incredibly popular in China, with hundreds of millions of users in 2016.

The most popular content creators make a living of the technology through micropayments from viewers.

Since the regulation was released, live-streamers all over the country find themselves affected.

Anton, a Ukrainian national living in China and a user of China's most popular gay social networking app, Blued, said he was suddenly cut off during a broadcast session on Jan. 12.

"The app sent me a message saying I had broken some rules, but I was just broadcasting.

Then, staff told me there was a new national regulation," he explained.

He is not the only one. Users on both Blued and Weibo-owned Yizhibo have received suspension notices.

While the law has been in place for over two months now, an unnamed employee from one of the streaming companies told Sixth Tone that details have not yet been released on how foreigners can apply for their broadcasting license.

The regulation bans the use of live-streams to undermine national security, destabilize society, disturb social order, infringe upon others' legitimate rights or spread obscene content.

The CAC has also instructed the creation of a blacklist of users who abuse and violate the regulation so that perpetrators cannot reregister.

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