China shutters 31 unlicensed news sites

Regulator closes news sites for running without permits, conducting interviews in the names of legitimate news agencies and editing false information for blackmail.

China shutters 31 unlicensed news sites.

China has shut down 31 news Web sites for operating without permits, conducting interviews in the name of news organizations and editing false information for blackmail and extortion.

According to China Daily on Thursday, the State Internet Information Office said in a statement these unlicensed sites disrupted order in the dissemination of online news information, undermined the reputation of licensed Internet news organizations and damaged the legal rights of individuals and legal entities.

One of the Web sites include Ren Min Nei Can Wang, an unlicensed site specializing in publishing false information and blackmailing companies and individuals by threatening to release false information about them.

A Chinese regulation on the management of Internet news information states Web sites must obtain government approval before providing such services, the report noted. The office also vowed to join forces with relevant authorities to punish violators through intensified efforts.

The clampdown on the unlicensed sites is the outcome of a two-month campaign launched by the office on May 9, 2013 to standardize the dissemination of online news. 

Elsewhere in Asia, Singapore's content regulator Media Development Authority last month outlined a new licensing rule that online news sites with significant reader reach and report regularly on Singapore will now need individual licenses, to seek more consistency with traditional news platforms.