Author: Han Jie
Posted on: CGTN | May 10th, 2017
A legal mechanism protecting online virtual property in China will come into force on October 1 later this year, according to a Xinhua report last Wednesday. The new civil code will make clear that «legal protection of data and online virtual property has a regulation, in accordance with its rules,» meaning that virtual property will be protected as a citizen’s civil right.
Meng Qiang, an associate professor of the Law School of the Beijing Institute of Technology, said that “the new Civil Code has been clear that online virtual property is a kind of civil right, and the new code has a wide range of targets and applications.”
Meng believes that the protection of virtual property in the civil code can be seen as a foundation for future legislation on special data and online virtual property.
With the boom in Internet users in China, online virtual property has gradually played an important role in people’s lives. Statistics show the number of Internet users in China reached 731 million at the end of December 2016, including 695 million mobile users.
Compared with traditional property, virtual property can only exist in the virtual world, explained Meng, adding that that means the display and transformation of virtual property is different from how traditional property is handled in the real world.
«For example, Xiao Liu sells his online gaming account to Xiao Wang for 4,000 yuan. Three months after Xiao Wang purchases this account, Xiao Liu requests online that the account be cancelled. Therefore, Xiao Wang cannot continue to use it. Under the new civil code, Xiao Liu can take Xiao Wang to court,» Meng said.
Before the announcement of the new civil code, China’s authorities did issue some regulations to protect citizen’s online data. The Supreme People’s Court has in the past moved to protect information such as citizens’ online account passwords.
However, if online virtual property is corrupted or damaged, how can citizens be compensated? What are the rules for passing on online property to someone else?
Therefore, although virtual property in China is legally protected, more efforts should be made in perfecting a law with more specifications on problems, such as unclear rules, scopes and standards, according to Meng.