Authorities work to shield minors online

Students have computer class at the Jinzhai County primary school in Jinzhai, east China's Anhui Province, Sept. 3,

2019. [Photo/Xinhua]

Procuratorial organs have focused on the crux of problems in cyberspace to protect the legitimate rights and interests of minors online, said officials on Wednesday, one day ahead of International Children's Day.

Na Yanfang, head of the ninth procuratorial office of the Supreme People's Procuratorate, said that cyberspace supervision and regulation are becoming increasingly complex and severe, and it is more difficult to create a good cyberspace environment for minors.

New types of crimes, including "online decoys" and "online indecency" are highly concealed, and enterprises have inadequate protection measures for juveniles, she added.

In April, the SPP issued a document on strengthening the rule of law in cyberspace, which stressed the need to enhance the protection of minors' rights and interests in cyberspace.

Procuratorates have severely punished people engaged in activities such as using children to commit telecom and online fraud, using the internet to harass them, using instant messaging tools and live-streaming platforms to spread pornographic materials related to children, and infringing on their personal information, she said.

From 2020 to 2022, 7,761 people suspected of using the internet to infringe on minors were prosecuted. The number of people prosecuted for online indecency and using the internet to lure children to meet offline accounted for nearly one-sixth of sexual assaults against minors, according to the SPP.

In one case issued by the SPP, in January a man surnamed Sui used social media platforms to send obscene videos to a child surnamed Liu and persuaded her to take nude photos and videos of herself. He then used the photos and videos she sent to blackmail Liu, demanding money from her and threatening her so she would have sex with him. Meanwhile, he sold Liu's nude photos and videos online.

The man was sentenced to 10 years in prison and fined 3,000 yuan ($420) for the crimes of child molestation, rape, extortion and the production, sale and dissemination of obscene materials for profit.

While handling the case, prosecutors also urged public security organs to delete the indecent videos that Sui possessed and uploaded.

Li Feng, deputy head of the ninth procuratorial office of the SPP, said that procuratorial organs should make full use of technical means to obtain evidence while handling such cybercrimes.

Na said that procuratorates should also take proper punitive and educational measures to deal with minors who are involved in cybercrimes.

"We should accurately identify the status and role of minors in cybercrimes and take more targeted measures against them," she said.

From 2020 to 2022, a total of 7,221 juveniles suspected of using telecommunications networks to commit crimes were prosecuted. In addition, 2,749 were approved for conditional non-prosecution, according to the SPP.

Procuratorates sent suggestions to administrative departments, urging them to resolve problems involving short-video and e-commerce platforms via public interest litigation channels.