Legislators in Guangdong Province are planning to amend a draft regulation on the security of computer-based information systems.
The key amendments include ensuring website operators "establish a sound security system" and the introduction of "serious punishments for violators of computer information systems".
He Yanfeng, a deputy to the Guangdong provincial people's congress, said: "The amendments are aimed at further developing computer information technology."
In recent years, the province has had many cases where the security of information systems has been breached.
Actions defined as posing a threat to security include entering a system without permission, or illegally using data contained within a system.
Under the draft regulation, the publication of misleading or false information online is strictly forbidden.
Also, disclosing Internet users' e-mail addresses or other personal information to a third party, and producing or spreading Internet viruses are prohibited.
"Individuals or companies that are found to be engaging in such activities will be subject to strict punishments," He said.
These will include fines of between 5,000 and 15,000 yuan (US$670-$2,000), she said.
"Decoding illegally imported software products, which are usually without authentication codes, will also be strictly forbidden," He said, adding that all "decoding business" should be carried out by the local public security authority.
Under the draft, Internet cafes are also required to set up standardized computer information administration systems in a bid to prevent "potential threats".
He said: "Public security departments and other government organizations will also be punished if they are found to have illegally disclosed information about computer users."
Chen Shuhuang, a lawyer with the Guangzhou-based Hanmeng Law Firm, said the amended draft was "a bigger step towards the protection of computer information systems".
"The rules will also better protect the information stored about people online," he said.
(China Daily October 24, 2007)