CAC Issues Live Streaming Provisions

On 4 November 2016, the Cyberspace Administration of China (“CAC”) issued the Administrative Provisions on Internet Live-streaming Services 2016, which took effect 1 December 2016.

The provisions apply to providers and users of internet services in China involving the continuous public release of real time information through videos, audios, images, text and other formats.

The provisions require internet live streaming service providers to:

  • Have sound content verification, information security, on-duty inspection, emergency response, technical support and related systems.
  • Possess the ability to immediately cut off live streaming services, and conform their related technical solutions to national standards.
  • Refrain, along with users, from producing, duplicating and providing prohibited content and engaging in other activities prohibited by law.
  • Authenticate the identity of users and refrain from disclosing, tampering with, destroying or illegally providing others with such information.
  • Verify the identity of content releasers and submit this information to the local office of the CAC.
  • Enter into service agreements which require users to follow the law.
  • Take measures against users that violate the law, delete illegal content, maintain records of illegal conduct, and report illegal conduct to the local office of the CAC.
  • Maintain and enforce blacklists of users who violate the law, and file black lists with the local CAC office.
  • Archive users’ published content records and information logs for 60 days.

The provisions also require internet live streaming content publishers to ensure that the source of news information is traceable and that the content is truthful, accurate, objective, impartial and complete.

Market Reaction

Paul McKenzie, Partner, Morrison & Foerster, Beijing and Shanghai

“The CAC once again demonstrates its responsiveness to new types of internet service with its issuance of the new live streaming provisions. They need to be read together with regulations applicable to online news service providers and providers of online audio-visual programmes. But they impose additional compliance obligations on operators of live streaming services in order to seek to control what is otherwise a free-wheeling online medium.”

Action Items

Though the provisions do not expressly prohibit foreign investment in the live streaming sector (where the business is a for-profit internet content service), the regulations governing providers of related services such as online news information and audio-visual services do expressly prohibit foreign investment. Counsel for domestic live streaming services should take immediate steps to put in place mechanisms to ensure compliance with the provisions, including required technical measures as well as changes to user agreements (if applicable).