Chinese crackdown on 'illegal' news websites

Beijing, June 28 (IANS) Chinese authorities have shut down 31 news websites for operating without permits, conducting interviews in the name of news organisations and editing false information for blackmail and extortion, Xinhua news agency reported.

According to the state internet information office, these websites include Ren Min Nei Can Wang, an unlicensed website that specialised in publishing false information and blackmailing companies and individuals by threatening to release false information about them, and peoplerw.com.cn.

The latter was run using the name renwu.people.com.cn, a channel of people.com.cn, an online news portal operated by the People's Daily, the flagship newspaper of the Communist Party of China, the office said in a statement.

Officials said these unlicensed websites have disrupted order in the dissemination of online news information, undermined the reputations of licensed Internet news organisations and damaged the legal rights of individuals and legal entities.

According to a regulation on the management of Internet news information, websites must obtain government approval before providing such services.

The shutting down of the websites followed a two-month campaign launched by the office May 9 to standardise the dissemination of online news.