All broadcasters will be held responsible for information they release on the Internet under new regulations due to be released by the Ministry of Information Industry today.
Xinhua said last night the regulation covered a wide range of areas, including information that went against the constitution and also 'heretical ideas'.
'The regulation said that no one can release information that is against the national constitution, endangers state security, reveals state secrets or sabotages unity among ethnic groups and that spreads heretical ideas, pornography, violence or other information banned by existing laws or regulations,' Xinhua said.
Broadcasters are required to delete any 'banned news items immediately' after they are discovered and provide authorities with information about users who have accessed their electronic bulletin boards.
The broadcasters must keep records about these users for 60 days. Broadcasters are also required to apply to the ministry or its provincial counterparts before they can provide such services on the Internet.
Xinhua said the new regulation also specified penalties for violators, but the report did not give details of these clauses.
Another regulation was released by the Information Office of the State Council to govern the operation of Internet news Web sites.
Xinhua said the office would take charge of the 'administration' of such Web sites.
Although the number of Internet users remains small in China compared with Western countries, its rapid growth has alarmed authorities, who have expressed fears that 'foreign hostile forces' will seize control of cyberspace to spread subversive ideas to the Chinese public.
The Government has set up firewalls and other computer software to discourage mainland Internet surfers from accessing foreign news media, but experienced surfers have found ways to bypass such controls.