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BIC strives to safeguard minors' development

english.bjinternetcourt.gov.cn | Updated: 2022-12-08


Since its establishment four years ago, the Beijing Internet Court (BIC) has heard 206 minor-related cases, with the youngest infringed being only five years old. One hundred and six cases were online-topping up related, accounting for over half of the total amount. The amounts range from 1,000 yuan ($ 143.1) to over 600,000 yuan. Those numbers reflect common issues of minors in their cyberspace life. The BIC is home to China's only internet juvenile tribunal. To respond to the challenges brought to minors in the new era by the development of cyberspace, the BIC launched an online platform for family education guidance, which is a proactive exploration on safeguarding minors’ development via rule of law. 

Going an extra mile

A 13-year-old girl had deposited money multiple times on an online comic platform for over a year. Her parents sued the online platform in the BIC after they discovered her behavior. The BIC did not just give a simple judgment, as the judges found a lot of content on the online platform that bordered on soft porn which is likely to affect the physical and mental health of minors.

The collegiate panel on the case not only determined that the online service content was invalid because it violated public order and good customs, but also ordered the platform to return all the top-up money, and issued judicial advice to the platform. Consequently, the platform removed the contents in question and pledged to continue to strengthen the protection mechanism for minors.

The so called "extra mile" evident in that case is a classic working procedure for the minor's tribunal of the BIC. The life of the generation since the millennium is closely connected with the internet, and the court spurs cyberspace infringement of the rights of youth. 

As a tribunal specialized in minors' protection, the BIC's juvenile tribunal takes it as their responsibility to exert umbrella protection to all the minors via individual cases. Under that principle, the BIC focuses on the common, tendentious and emerging problems found in the trials it hears, giving full play to the role of judicial advice, and puting forward suggestions for reasonable improvement.

The BIC is one of the first legal publicity and education demonstration bases in Beijing. The court also makes mini educational videos and cartoons which hit over 2.2 million page views. Their online open days also attract millions of views.

Tailored trial mechanism

The juvenile tribunal of the BIC has a unique online "conversation room" where minors can receive relaxed pre-litigation talks, mediation and family educational guidance against a specially designed cozy family-style backdrop. This is a tailored virtual court cabin to ease anxieties of the minors. 

Moreover, the BIC has a trial mechanism for minors which includes personal service, case prompting, whole-process mediation and typical case incubation and publication. The nolle prosequi rate of cases concerning minors at the BIC is 77.5 percent. 

The BIC also attaches great importance to fostering of judges at the juvenile tribunal, aiming to build a judge team that excels in minor-related work. Their online platform for minors combines publicity, theoretical research, and coordinated governance functions which provides comprehensive legal support, frontline research results and professional family education guidance. 

Extending functions for a new protection pattern

Protection of minors is a responsibility shared by all society. The BIC is committed to extending its trial function role in a bid to build a new pattern for minor protection. 

For example, to solve the disturbing issues of money depositing by minors to online platforms, the BIC tapped the mediation committee of the China Internet Association, which increased the mediation rate up to 93 percent. Meanwhile, in response to the common phenomenon of minors topping-up via adults' accounts, the BIC formulated an investigation guideline for court work which supports the minor litigants' claims in accordance with the law by refining the mode of proof, the burden of proof and the standard of proof.

In their trial work, the BIC has always denied illegal or uncivilized behavior in cyberspace. At its early stage after its establishment, the BIC acutely observed the negativity of the "fan culture" on the internet. After thorough surveys and research, the BIC released a report on fan culture and the lack of ethical or moral standards of teenagers in their online speech, which attracted over 15 million views on related topics, and promoted governance by related departments.

The family education guidance platform is another measure by the BIC to help parents fulfill their duties to their children so as to improve internet civilization and the level of family education.