Court implicates QQ over student's suicide

0 CommentsPrint E-mail Global Times, December 6, 2010
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A highly popular Internet company is partly responsible for the death of a Shanghai university student who agreed to a suicide pact via instant QQ messages, a court in East China's Zhejiang Province ruled Friday.

Tencent, the owner of QQ, was ordered to reimburse the family of the young man who died, for its role in the tragedy.

The student surnamed Fan, 20, visited to Lishui, Zhejiang Province June 24 to join a suicide pact organized by a local college student surnamed Zhang. They used QQ messages to chat and arrange their fate. However, Zhang changed his mind and tried to persuade Fan to do the same but Fan committed suicide by inhaling carbon monoxide from burning charcoal.

Fan's parents filed a lawsuit against Zhang and Tencent in Liandu district court in Lishui. They blamed Zhang for organizing the suicide pact and Tencent for failing to block the messages.

The court said that Zhang must pay 111,225 yuan ($16,675) to Fan's family or 20 percent of the total compensation, while Tencent must fork over 55,612.5 yuan ($8,347) or 10 percent of the com-pensation, the Xinhua News Agency reported Friday.

The court limited the damage because Fan himself was 70 percent at fault for causing his own death. It was not clear why Fan killed himself.

According to the court, Fan is an adult responsible for his own behavior. But Zhang's suicide invitation also played a role in Fan's death and Zhang should have tried harder to stop him, the Beijing-based Procuratorial Daily reported Saturday.

The court also said that Tencent should be held accountable for failing to remove dangerous suicide messages.

According to a regulation issued by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, Internet service providers should take measures to stop transmission of harmful online information and alert related government agencies when they find it, the report said. Tencent said they intend to appeal because Internet service providers have no right to monitor users' message, the China National Radio reported.

"We should accelerate the legislation work to stop the Internet from becoming an accessory to suicide," Liao Yamei, Fan's family attorney, told the Global Times Sunday.

Liu Changqiu, a researcher at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times that he supported the verdict since it followed the Regulations on Internet Administration.

"It is the first time the court sentenced an Internet service provider for failing to exercise their duties since they have the obligation to control the use of harmful words," Liu said.

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