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Internet lawsuits involving children jump in Beijing

chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2024-05-31


Internet lawsuits involving children have risen rapidly in Beijing over the past three years, with many related to refund of tips made to livestreaming hosts or online games, cyberbullying and personal information protection, according to a report.

The report on juvenile justice in cyberspace showed that from June 2021, when the revised Minor Protection Law took effect, to May this year, the Beijing Internet Court handled 597 online civil cases involving juveniles, mainly covering contracts and infringements.

The number of such disputes in 2022 was just 123, but in the first five months of this year, it has soared to 245, the report said.

"The contract disputes were mainly caused by children's irrational or impulsive consumption while playing online games or watching livestreaming," said Zhao Ruigang, vice-president of the court.

He noted that young netizens and their guardians initiated the lawsuits against internet operators after they failed to get refunds from the platforms.

Among the litigants in the online contract lawsuits, the youngest was just four years old, and the largest amount of money involved was 3.1 million yuan ($427,620), he told a news conference while introducing the report to public.

Meanwhile, the child-related internet cases also involved the infringement of minors' reputation and image. For example, some teenagers were found to have bullied their classmates through defamation in cyberspace, or even asked other students to slander the victims together, he recalled.

"Some adults were also discovered to have transferred contradictions between each other to their children, and then abused or accused of the minors on the internet," he said.

In addition, he revealed that some cases reflected children's weak legal awareness on personal information protection, causing economic losses to their families, he added.

Official data recently released said by the end of last year, China had nearly 1.1 billion netizens, about 200 million of whom were under the age of 18.

To strongly protect legitimate rights of juveniles in cyberspace and guide them to surf the internet in a civilized manner, Zhao called for families to tighten supervision and education on their children while enjoying online livestreaming, shopping or gaming services.

Online platforms also need to optimize their services and upgrade their technologies to prevent minors from being addicted to the internet or bullied, he added.