China’s Internet Culture Goes Unchecked, for Now

While the Chinese government keeps a tight grip on Internet news and political discussion here, it has done little to prevent online defamation and invasions of personal privacy. Now, as the national legislature looks to tighten privacy laws, a Beijing lawsuit has focused the question of whether China’s freewheeling online culture has gone too far.The suit was prompted by the suicide in December of a woman who had been blogging about her husband’s alleged affair. Her death prompted an outpouring of vitriol against the husband, Wang Fei, who has sued two Chinese online companies and an individual for defamation and privacy violations.The allegations, which the defendants deny, have been studied by a group of more than 50 senior judges as a test case for resolving issues of privacy rights, the liability of Internet companies and public morality. The case, now under consideration by a panel of three Beijing judges, comes as national lawmakers look to tighten privacy laws.

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