China investigating top media sites Baidu, Tencent, Weibo for breaching cyber laws

Chinese regulators are investigating Baidu’s forum site Tieba over suspected violations of the country’s strict cybersecurity laws. (Reuters)
Updated 11 August 2017
0

China investigating top media sites Baidu, Tencent, Weibo for breaching cyber laws

BEIJING: China’s cyber regulator on Friday said it was investigating the country’s top social media sites over failing to comply with strict laws that ban content which is violent, obscene or deemed offensive to the Communist Party.
The Cyberspace Administration said it was investigating Tencent Holdings’ WeChat, Weibo and Baidu’s forum site Tieba over suspected violations of the country’s strict cybersecurity laws.
“Users are spreading violence, terror, false rumors, pornography and other hazards to national security, public safety, social order,” the regulator said on its website.
The companies did not immediately respond to e-mails and phone calls seeking comment on the probe.
This is the latest in a series of regulatory actions against the country’s top tech firms as China’s cyber authorities adopt an increasingly hardened stance on censorship, doling out harsh punishments to firms that fail to comply.
Cyber surveillance is being tightened further ahead of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China expected to be held later this year, when global attention will be on news coming from the world’s second-biggest economy.
Last month, cyber authorities called on the same firms to carry out immediate “cleaning and rectification” at a meeting with their representatives, where the authorities cited specific examples of illicit content, including rumors about party officials and misrepresenting Chinese military history.
Prior to the meeting, Weibo was ordered to partially close its video site over violations, wiping out a combined $1.3 billion (SR4.88 billion) worth of stock between Weibo and parent firm Sina Corp.
Messaging app WeChat and microblogging service Weibo are China’s most popular social media platforms, and have thrived due to the absence of western competitors like Facebook and Twitter that are banned by the country’s censors.
WeChat and Weibo have about 940 million and 350 million monthly active users, respectively.


Saudi Arabia ‘has a case’ in complaint over World Cup ‘politicization’ by Qatar’s BeIN

Updated 19 June 2018
0

Saudi Arabia ‘has a case’ in complaint over World Cup ‘politicization’ by Qatar’s BeIN

  • Broadcast of political messages in coverage forbidden, analyst confirms.
  • Saudi football federation urges FIFA to sanction the Doha-owned channel.

LONDON: Saudi Arabia has a justified case in complaining to FIFA over the “politicization” of the World Cup by the Qatari broadcaster BeIN Sports, a prominent TV analyst has said.
A flurry of comments by hosts and pundits aired on BeIN’s Arabic station prompted the Saudi Arabian Football Federation to complain to FIFA this week, saying the broadcaster was using the football tournament to spread political messages aimed at insulting Saudi Arabia and its leaders.
In its complaint, the federation called on FIFA to take severe sanctions against the Qatari channel and to abolish the rights granted to the network.
One BeIN commentator accused Saudi Arabia of “selling out the Palestinian cause,” while a Doha-based international footballer invited on the channel was allowed to call for an end to the year-long boycott of Qatar by neighbors Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain.
Constantinos Papavassilopoulos, principal TV research analyst at IHS Markit Technology, said that politicized coverage was expressly forbidden by world football’s governing body as well as the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA).
“FIFA and UEFA forbid the transmission of political messages during football matches for which they control the rights. It’s not only comments by the broadcasters — but even banners; everything (political) is forbidden,” the analyst told Arab News.
“So messages about Palestine, about political things, are not allowed.”
Papavassilopoulos said that if there is evidence of such cases, authorities in the Kingdom would be justified in taking the matter to FIFA.
“If there are video clips that show BeIN media personnel speaking against Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabia has a case,” he said.
But whether FIFA will take any action against BeIN is another matter. Papavassilopoulos pointed to the fact that BeIN is a valued client of FIFA — it bought the rights to host the World Cup across the Middle East and North Africa — and that Qatar plans to host the tournament in 2022.
“BeIN media is a very good client for FIFA. And don’t forget that Qatar is the country that will host the 2022 World Cup,” he said. “It’s going to be very very hard for FIFA to impose penalties on BeIN media knowing that Qatar will hold the next World Cup.”
Some of the biggest names in Arab sport have signed a petition to protest against BeIN’s politicization of World Cup coverage, urging FIFA President Gianni Infantino to investigate the coverage.
FIFA did not immediately respond to a request for comment when contacted by Arab News.