Damage to reputation vs. freedom of opinion - What can be done against bad reviews on the Internet under Chinese law?

When is a negative corporate review in China to be classified as illegal?

According to Chinese competition law, a negative corporate review in China is classified as unfair competition if the review unreasonably damages a competitor's creditworthiness or the good reputation of its products. In addition, the unlawful impairment of the business reputation is also treated as a criminal offence. With regard to negative company reviews on the Internet, Article 36 of the Chinese tort law and the regulations on the protection of rights on the Internet also stipulate the liability of authors and Internet service providers for inappropriate company reviews, inappropriate remarks about products as well as insults and defamation of employees.

What measures can be taken against unlawful reviews?

Firstly, the company concerned can assert claims against the author for revocation and compensation. In addition, the company may also request that the Internet service provider takes the necessary measures to eliminate the unlawful review (removal of the infringing content). If the Internet service provider refuses to take the necessary measures, a complaint can be submitted against it to the competent administrative authority and a complaint can be brought before the civil courts.

Can you buy positive fake reviews as a company?

In China, the purchase of positive fake reviews on the Internet is regarded as misleading/false advertising because the consumer is thereby deceived about the quality and/or the characteristics of the product. According to the law on the protection of consumer rights as well as competition law and advertising law, this conduct is therefore unlawful. A contract between companies and service providers for positive fake reviews is void.             

Autor: Marcel Brinkmann