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Guidance and self-discipline: Toward healthy development
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By Huang Chengqing

Vice Chairman and Secretary-General of the Internet Society of China

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Internet has undergone rapid development in China over the past 14 years, giving rise to an Internet culture with distinctive Chinese characteristics. Like other nations, China faces a host of problems and challenges in effectively regulating its burgeoning Internet industry. As an organization representing this industry, the Internet Society of China (ISC) has conducted research and deliberation in this regard while drawing on the experiences of other countries. It has focused its efforts on issuing credit ratings to Internet companies, protecting copyright on the Internet, promoting barrier-free access to information, offering wholesome content to young Internet users and carrying out social service activities. Today, I am so glad to take this opportunity to share with our American friends as well as Chinese colleagues what we have done on behalf of the ISC, the Chinese sponsor of this forum.

(1) Issuing Credit Ratings to Internet Companies to Foster Credibility on the Internet

Credibility is the cornerstone of a harmonious society. The absence of credibility poses the biggest barrier to the development of online payment, e-commerce and other online services. In an effort to encourage Internet companies to uphold credibility and promote the sound development of the Internet industry, the ISC started to assign credit ratings to Internet companies this year.

Besides looking at general factors such as the companies' overall performance, financial position, management and competitiveness, the ISC, in accordance with its Standards on Credit Ratings to Internet Companies (Websites), focuses on assessing their social credibility: whether they have information security loopholes, whether they have been reported for publishing illegal or harmful information, whether they strictly observe the "notification and deletion" procedure under which copyright holders can submit written notices to Internet companies to demand that they delete their works or cancel the links to their works, whether they have received administrative penalties from industry regulators, whether they have cheated clients and misled Internet users with false page view data, whether they have signed and implemented the Self-Disciplinary Convention of the Chinese Internet Industry and other self-disciplinary rules, and whether they have contributed to public welfare.

Apart from relying on the judgment of a group of experts, the ISC also carried out this credit ratings work under public scrutiny by soliciting public opinion through e-mail and telephone hotlines to ensure an objective and fair rating mechanism. It released the credit ratings of the first batch of 17 companies, including Tencent Inc. (qq.com), Baidu.com Inc. and Sohu.com Inc., which are present at today’s forum, at the China Internet Conference 2008 on September 25. By publicizing and applying the credit ratings, the ISC seeks to imbue Internet companies with a greater sense of credibility, enhance their capacity to exercise self-discipline, improve their credit worthiness, prompt more companies to abide by industry rules and contribute to the improvement of the order of market competition and the establishment of a credit rating system in the whole society.

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