Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-544b6db54f-s4m2s Total loading time: 0.223 Render date: 2021-10-17T22:26:44.887Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "figures": true, "newCiteModal": false, "newCitedByModal": true, "newEcommerce": true, "newUsageEvents": true }

Internet (Un)Immunity: Where Does China Stand?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 August 2020

Jie (Jeanne) HUANG*
University of Sydney Law School


This paper focuses on Internet intermediaries’ civil liabilities for contents produced by third parties. By comparing Chinese law with the laws of the US and EU, it argues that the US law grants broad civil immunity to Internet intermediaries, and the EU and China restrict civil immunity to intermediaries but in different ways. This is on account of how, in the US, Internet intermediaries enjoy civil immunity as long as they do not become content providers. In the EU, aside from mere conduit intermediaries, all other intermediaries are subject to the notice-and-take-down mechanism before enjoying civil immunity. In contrast, in China, even after an intermediary properly follows the notice-and-take-down mechanism, it may still be subject to civil liability under the Chinese Consumer Law. Further, this paper argues that the policy priority for the law for Internet intermediaries varies fundamentally in the three jurisdictions. The US law for intermediaries’ liability focuses on protecting freedom of speech. The EU emphasizes the protection of personal information as a fundamental human right. Contrastingly, Chinese policy priority is unclear. Consumer protection has boomed in public popularity and increasingly attracted the attentions of the legislature and judiciary in China. However, it is doubtable that the protection of consumers can provide a prevailing policy support for Chinese law in the same way as freedom of speech and the protection of personal information do under the laws of the US and the EU, respectively.

Legal Risk Society in East Asia
© Cambridge University Press and KoGuan Law School, Shanghai Jiao Tong University 2020

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)



Dr Jie (Jeanne) Huang is an Associate Professor at the University of Sydney Law School. I am very grateful for the anonymous referee’s comments. All errors remain to be mine. Correspondence to Jie (Jeanne) Huang, New Law Building F10, The University of Sydney, NSW, 2006 Sydney, Australia. E-mail address: This paper was made possible partly by the University of Sydney—SJTU Research Project Grants and the China National Social Science Fund (16BFX202).


Ballard Spahr, LLP (2018) “New Trade Agreement Extends CDA Section 230 Immunity Abroad,”–10–04-new-trade-agreement-extends-cda-section-230-immunity-abroad (accessed 31 October 2019).Google Scholar
Bluebond, Andrew (2014) “When the Customer Is Wrong: Defamation, Interactive Websites, and Immunity.” 33 Review of Litigation 679710.Google Scholar
Cecil, Amanda L. (2014) “Taking Back the Internet: Imposing Civil Liability on Interactive Computer Services in an Attempt to Provide an Adequate Remedy to Victims of Nonconsensual Pornography Note.” 71 Washington and Lee Law Review 2513–66.Google Scholar (2019) “No. 5 of the Ten Influential Cases on the Occasion of the Second Anniversary of the Establishment of the Hangzhou Internet Court (Part Two),” (accessed 31 October 2019).Google Scholar (2017–18) “H.R.1865—Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017,” (accessed 31 October 2019).Google Scholar
Electronic Frontier (2019) “CDA 230: Key Legal Cases,” (accessed 31 October 2019).Google Scholar (2019) “Global Ecommerce 2019,” (accessed 7 October 2019).Google Scholar
Goldman, Eric (2017) “The Ten Most Important Section 230 Rulings.20 Tulane Journal of Technology and Intellectual Property 110.Google Scholar
Goldman, Eric (2019) “Why Section 230 Is Better Than the First Amendment.” Notre Dame Law Review Online (Forthcoming).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Jackman, Tom (2018) “Trump Signs ‘FOSTA’ Bill Targeting Online Sex Trafficking, Enables States and Victims to Pursue Websites,” The Washington Post, 12 April.Google Scholar
Keller, Daphne (2018) “The Right Tools: Europe’s Intermediary Liability Laws and the EU 2016 General Data Protection Regulation.33 Berkeley Journal of International Law 287369.Google Scholar
Khanna, Derek (2013) “The Law That Gave Us the Modern Internet and the Campaign To Kill It,” The Atlantic, 12 September.Google Scholar
Kozak, Nadine Irène (2018) “Fighting for the Internet: Online Blackout Protests and Internet Legislation in the United States, 1996–2018.” 21 M/C Journal, (accessed 31 October 2019).Google Scholar
Kuner, Christopher (2015) “The Court of Justice of the EU Judgment on Data Protection and Internet Search Engines: Current Issues and Future Challenges,” in Hess, B. and Mariottini, C. M., eds., Protecting Privacy in Private International and Procedural Law and by Data Protection, Baden-Baden: Nomos, 1955.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Letter from Gerald Leitner, Secretary-General, International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (2016) “Application of Right to be Forgotten Rulings: The Library Viewpoint,” (accessed 31 October 2019).Google Scholar
Letter from Josh King, CEO, Avvo, to Honorable Tani Cantil-Sakauye, Chief Justice, Supreme Court of the State of California (2016), (accessed 31 October 2019).Google Scholar
Media Legal Defence (2015) “Freedom of Expression, Media Law and Defamation,” (accessed 31 October 2019).Google Scholar (2010) “The Economic and Social Role of Internet Intermediaries,” (accessed 31 October 2019).Google Scholar
Office of the United States Trade (2018) “United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement,” /trade-agreements/free-trade-agreements/united-states-mexico-canada-agreement (accessed 10 September 2019).Google Scholar
Pappalardo, Kylie, & Suzor, Nicolas (2018) “The Liability of Australian Online Intermediaries.” 40 Sydney Law Review 469–98.Google Scholar
Peguera, Miquel (2016) “The Shaky Ground of the Right to Be Delisted.” 18 Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment & Technology Law 507–61.Google Scholar (2018) “Facebook Supported ‘Sex Trafficking’ Law FOSTA to Cozy Up to Republican Critics: Reason Roundup,” (accessed 15 November 2018).Google Scholar
Stewart, Daxton R. (2013) “When Retweets Attack: Are Twitter Users Liable for Republishing the Defamatory Tweets of Others?” 90 Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly 233–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar (2019) “Requests to Delist Content under European Privacy Law,” (accessed 31 October 2019).Google Scholar
World Trade Organization (2019) “Joint Statement on Electronic Commerce,” WT/L/1056, Geneva.Google Scholar (2018) “Why Did E-commerce Law Experience ‘Four Read’?,” ––09/12/c_1123415183.htm. (accessed 31 October 2019).Google Scholar
Zara, Christopher (2017) “The Most Important Law in Tech Has a Problem,” WIRED, 1 March.Google Scholar

Send article to Kindle

To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Internet (Un)Immunity: Where Does China Stand?
Available formats

Send article to Dropbox

To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

Internet (Un)Immunity: Where Does China Stand?
Available formats

Send article to Google Drive

To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

Internet (Un)Immunity: Where Does China Stand?
Available formats

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *