China is proposing to restrict internet access to minors and children. The move is intended to curb internet addiction.
Tech sector regulator, the Cyberspace Administration of China said on Wednesday that people under 18 will not be allowed to access the internet via a mobile device between 10pm and 6am each day.
The regulator will introduce a graduated system where young people have different amounts of internet access depending on their age. Those under eight years old will be limited to 40 minutes per day. Those age between 16 and 18 will have a maximum of two hours access per day.
Additionally, content must be age-appropriate. And youngsters will be reminded to take breaks every 30 minutes.
The revisions are open to public discussion and will come into force on Sept. 2.
The CAC said that the proposed changes are needed to: “better play the positive role of the internet, create a good network environment, prevent and intervene in the problem of minors’ internet addiction, and guide minors to form good habits,” in accordance with several pre-existing laws.
Such granular control is possible in China because the country has real name registration systems for many online activities and requires a high degree of compliance on the part of its tech companies.
In 2021, the government intervened in similar fashion to limit the online game time activity of minors. It also chose to also suspend approvals for new game licenses and permits for their commercial exploitation, denting the businesses of companies including Tencent and forcing them to adjust.
In recent days the CAC said that it had obliged internet providers and platforms to remove some 86,000 pieces of fake news and other business-related information. And it has issued new rules on generative AI. Taken together, the measures suggest that Chinese authorities continue to seek a tight leash on the tech sector.
A few weeks ago, some in the industry called an end to China’s regulatory crackdown on the tech sector when Alibaba affiliate Ant Group was given a massive fine and what appeared to be a green light to restart the build-up to an IPO. That optimism propelled a 25% rally since June 1 of the tech stock index in Hong Kong, where many of China’s tech giants are listed.
On Wednesday, the Hong Kong-listed shares of Alibaba fell by 2.8% to HK$95.15. Tencent shares fell by 3% to HK$343.40. Major AI firm Baidu saw its shares drop 3.75% toHK146.50.