Remember when text messaging wasn’t that big of a deal? Way back before touch screens and T9, when your elders had barely gotten used to having a cellular phone on them? Well, the halcyon days of instant communication technology are long gone – if you’re one of the “after 90” generation, you’ve grown up in constant contact with friends, family and the rest of the world.
But now, since parents have caught on to the shtick, the wonderful wild west of unscrupulous communication has also become a useful tool for monitoring the activities of their children. Which, apparently, is both bad and now illegal. SCMP Daily reports that, according to a new law in Hubei, adults are now barred from checking text messages, emails or online chat records of minors without their approval.
Provincial legislators rejected that view, arguing that a majority of the experts and juveniles they interviewed supported the more extensive restrictions, the Hubei-based Changjiang Daily reported.
Hubei lawmaker Zhou Yetao argued in media interviews in June that the clause on text messages and online chat records was aimed at providing up-to-date privacy protection to juveniles, since such communication tools were not in wide use when Beijing issued the Juvenile Protection Law in 2007.
“The inclusion [of text messages and online chat records] will help protect juveniles’ rights more reasonably, in a wider scope,” Zhou said.
But Yang Dongping, education research professor at the Beijing Institute of Technology, said the clause on text messages was too detailed to fit into a general law, and Hubei lawmakers did not have a clear understanding of the mainland’s realities. “For juvenile protection laws, the focus should always be on general areas such as how to reduce students’ extra study burdens and protect their rights to enjoy holidays and pastimes,” Yang said.
We don’t really have much to say about the irony of the Chinese government banning parents from observing and regulating the online actions of their children and we can’t help but think this is a futile attempt at unnecessary regulation: parents will undoubtedly still check on their children regardless of the law. After all, shouldn’t students be more concerned about a little more freedom in reality, not on the internet? And since when is the opinion of experts and juveniles definitive? We’ve conjured up a pretty funny mental image of academics and school kids joining forces for freedom. Take that, Confucianism!
Photo from flickr user M1khaela