What just happened? China is once again tightening control over the country’s Internet. This time around, the restrictions are on those under 18 and how they interact and access live streaming services, including banning youth from tipping streamers and blocking children’s accounts from 10 p.m.
SCMP reports that China on Saturday told live streaming platforms to step up controls on how under-18s use their services. The news comes just weeks after reports that the country is preparing to hit the $30 billion live broadcast industry with new regulations. Last month, the company launched a new campaign to end the “chaos” in the sector.
Policy changes issued by four regulatory bodies, including the National Radio and Television Administration and the China Cyberspace Authority (CAC), prohibit live streaming platforms from offering tipping services to minors. This includes cash top-ups, gift purchases, and online payments. This rule must be enforced by strictly enforcing the real name registration requirement.
“If platforms are found to be in violation of the above requirements, action may be taken, including suspending the tipping feature and discontinuing live streaming,” the regulators said in a statement.
In addition, platforms are being asked to set up dedicated teams to censor youth content, and they should shut down parent-controlled user activities in “youth mode” after 10 p.m. to “make sure they [under-18s] enough time to rest.”
Elsewhere, users between the ages of 16 and 18 must now obtain permission from their parents or guardians before live streaming – those under 16 are not allowed to stream.
Regulators say the tightening of rules is aimed at improving the “physical and mental health” of China’s youth.
While Twitch and YouTube are two of the many Western sites blocked in China, Douyin, the national version of TikTok, is very popular, as are Taobao Live, Bilibili, and Huya & Douyu Tencent. About 70% of Internet users in China connect to live broadcasting services, which attracted an audience of more than 700 million people last year.
It was revealed last week that Sina Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter, will release users’ IP addresses and location data to combat inappropriate behavior on the platform.