China recently launched an 18-month nationwide operation to crack down on organized crime conducted in cyberspace, targeting crimes like online blackmail, fraud, threats and harassment.
Nine central departments including the ministries of public security, industry and information technology, and justice, as well as the Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate jointly issued a circular to deploy relevant authorities to carry out the operation.
The operation aims to deepen the ongoing regular crackdown on organized crime in the information and network spaces. In 2018, China's central government launched a three-year national campaign focusing on fighting organized crime, after which it became an ongoing campaign.
Authorities have continued to deepen the rectification of the information network, natural resources, transportation and engineering construction industries since July last year, and a number of tip-offs have been dealt with, and a batch of industrial laws and regulations have been revised and improved, according to the national office against organized crime of the Commission for Political and Legal Affairs of the Communist Party of China Central Committee.
In the first half of this year, national public security organs busted 41 criminal gangs making use of the network to carry out fraudulent loans, including three mafia-like gangs, and resolved 219 related cases, according to the office.
The circular requires authorities to pay close attention to the extension and development of gang-related criminal activities in cyberspace, and to combine the work with the ongoing crackdown on new types of crime in telecommunication networks.
Gangs that use the information network to carry out criminal activities such as blackmail via threatening to release private photos or information online, inciting hatred, fraudulent loans, making malicious claims, using threats, blackmail or harassment for debt collection, and organizing online paid posters to provoke trouble should be severely punished, it said.
The illegal chains, including those in upstream and downstream software development, attracting subscribers and increasing flows and money laundering must be resolutely cut off.
Problems and disorders in cyberspace such as spreading rumors, smear campaigns and cyber violence should be cleaned up, according to the circular.
Authorities were asked to establish a long-term governance mechanism integrating the fight against organized crime online and offline, the prevention and control of organized crime, and resolutely removing the ground that gives rise to criminal forces in cyberspace.
Industrial regulators should promote the in-depth rectification of industries, strengthen daily supervision and management, and severely punish companies and those that do not comply with the regulations, it said.