China’s civil code addresses problems of internet era

Citizens, a police officer and a grid-based community worker explains the civil code to fishermen and answer relevant legal problems in Dongying, east China’s Shandong province, June 4. Photo by Chen Jingxu/People’s Daily Online

By Xue Jun, People’s Daily

Internet is now integrated into all sectors of the Chinese society, and this social change has been fully taken into consideration in the making of China’s civil code.

Because of this, the Chinese civil code is considered a symbolic one in the internet era, and deserves an important place in the global history of civil code compiling.

Paperless revolution and electronization are a major change brought by the internet, and they are widely applied in social and economic exchanges. To address the transformation, the Chinese civil code has made systematic regulation.

How can an online transaction or contract be valid? What online behaviors are considered legally binding offers and what are considered promises? When is an online delivery considered completed? These problems all have legal basis in the Chinese civil code.

To some extent, the civil code offers a complete statutory rules for online economic exchanges, which will effectively lower the institutional cost of online transactions and propel the development of e-commerce and other businesses.

Internet also facilitated the emergence of platform economy, and many internet platforms are playing a pivotal role in today’s social and economic life. Therefore, these platforms, as new market entities, are also a focus of the civil code, and complete liability clauses have been developed in this regard. For instance, the “notice and take down” rules are replaced by the more detailed “notification and counter-notification” in the civil code. All infringement of rights and interests on internet platforms can be compensated under this institutional frame, which will further normalize the platform economy and make it more sustainable.

People’s social activities are more and more moved online in the internet era, which has brought new features of and changes to the rights of personality and property. For instance, online ID is now an important carrier of a person’s social personality image, so it is protected by the civil code. New properties, such as virtual properties and data, are also taken into consideration by the civil code.

It is expected that as the internet economy further develops, a new property law system will be created for the internet era on the basis of relevant civil code regulations.

The enhanced protection over personal information in the internet era is another focus and highlight of the civil code. The protection over personal information in the internet era is a global issue, and many countries have made special laws to respond to it. China also has similar legislation plan. The civil code, from the perspective of civil law, pays high attention on the protection of individuals’ legal interests in terms of personal information. The implementation of the civil code will bring China’s legal protection of personal information onto a new level.

The civil code’s close relation with the internet era comes from the remarkable development of China’s information and technology industry. Its clauses and terms related to the internet not only regulate, but also propel the healthy and sustained development of the internet industry.

The implementation of the civil code will further improve China’s stable and expectable legal environment, and make China’s digitalization and informatization more stable and sustainable.

Different editions of the Chinese civil code arrive at bookstores across China, June 9. Photo by Chen Xiaogen/People’s Daily Online

A staff worker of “Jie You Bus,” a legal service platform, explains new regulations and offers legal consultation services to residents in southwest China’s Chongqing municipality, June 23. Photo by Sun Kaifang/People’s Daily Online