China’s first Internet Court has handled more than 11,000 cases since its inception a year ago, and the country now plans to set up additional Internet Courts in Beijing and Guangzhou.
China’s first Internet Court is located in the e-commerce hub of Hangzhou (capital of Zhejiang Province and home to e-commerce giant Alibaba (阿里巴巴)). The court was established last year to cope with increasing online disputes, primarily related to e-commerce and online piracy.
In its inaugural year, the Hangzhou Internet Court handled mostly civil cases, such as contract disputes involving online shopping, service and small loans, copyright and infringement lawsuits, domain name disputes, internet defamation, and some administrative lawsuits. The average trial duration was 38 days, about 50 percent shorter than conventional courts handling such cases.
In addition to presiding over next-generation technology cases, the Hangzhou Internet Court has implemented next-generation courtroom technology that allows plaintiffs to file cases and upload evidence online, and even to appear at hearings via video link if they do not reside locally. These internet-enabled services can allow judges to sometimes handle cases entirely online. The court is also now in the process of setting up a data center for Internet-related cases.
Expansion to Beijing and Guangzhou
China’s Supreme People’s Court (SPC) announced last month plans to set up additional Internet Courts in Beijing and Guangzhou, based on the success of the Hangzhou Internet Court.
The SPC also announced that it will toughen its stance on online rumors and fraud, trading personal information and others.
China’s controversial new Cybersecurity Law came into effect on June 1, 2017. In addition to focusing on cybersecurity, the law also details how companies are to handle personal information and data, and includes many industry-specific rules (e.g., for banking and credit information services). Perhaps most controversially, the law requires network operators to allow Chinese criminal and security investigators full access to data upon request; and requires network operators in critical sectors to store within China all data that is gathered or produced in the country.