BIC case included in SPC’s typical civil cases promoting core socialist values
The Supreme People's Court (SPC) released the third batch of typical civil cases promoting core socialist values on March 1, 2023. A network service contract case handled by the Beijing Internet Court (BIC), highlighting the protection of minors, was included.
In the case, the plaintiff, surnamed Tang, a fifteen-year-old, paid a total of 1,466 yuan ($212.4) across 25 orders via the Wechat account to a comic platform from May 2019 to December 2020.
Tang claimed that the company owning the comic platform failed to fulfill its obligation to effectively identify the user as a minor and take the necessary actions to restrain the user's purchase and content of the comics. Tang's reading list and the comics pushed by the platform showed the content was harmful to the mental and physical health of minors, and violated the public order and good customs. Tang sued the company at the BIC, requesting to invalidate the network service contract between Tang and the company and get a refund of 1,466 yuan.
In handling cases related to minors, the BIC held that to determine the effectiveness of an act, an examination should be carried out to see if any violation of public order and good customs exists, and the principle of seeking the best interest of minors should be followed. The court found out that the comic contents provided by the company to the minor contained not only those that are prohibited by administrative regulations, but also a large amount with provocative messages and nude images, which would damage minors' mental and physical health, and mislead the development of their values. The court thus ruled that the contract was invalid, and the company should refund the payment of 1,466 yuan to Tang.
This case highlighted that network service providers should adopt the core value of integrity and improve their service contents. It would also serve as a guidance to all parties, including network service providers, minors and their parents, encouraging them to follow core socialist values in the joint governance of cyberspace, and to foster a civilized, healthy and clean cyberspace for minors.