Chinese app owner gets 7 years in prison for spreading pornography

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The latest accomplishment of China’s internet clean-up campaign is a 7-year prison sentence given to a 27-year old man surnamed Wang, the founder of video app Hot TV (火爆TV). State media has reported that 1579 illegal videos were found on the video platform out of which 28 were defined as pornographic by the Dalian Culture Broadcasting and Film Bureau. That’s one year in prison for every four indecent videos.

The company was also fined RMB 240 million according to the ruling by the Shahekou District Court in Dalian reported by state media on August 8.  The owner and staff of the company were accused of collecting and spreading indecent videos and luring consumers to become paid members without proper authorization in February this year.

The Hot TV app had an impressive 4.26 million users. The app was developed by Beijing Quwang Technology (北京趣网科技公司) founded in 2015. Starting from December 2016 to April 2017, the company gained a total revenue of RMB 140 million.

In early 2018, China’s State Administration of Radio and Television (SART) launched an internet clean-up campaign dubbed “Purifying the Internet 2018” guided by the National Office Against Pornographic and Illegal Publications.

According to its official site, in the first half of 2018, the office confiscated more than 9.8 million publications, purged 270 million pieces of pornographic information and shut down 62,000 apps and websites. One of the victims of this campaign was popular Chinese gay-themed drama Guardian which was completely removed from video platform Youku last week.

Peddling online pornography in China has led to prison sentences even before the recent campaign. The most notable case was that of internet entrepreneur and CEO of Kuaibo Wang Xin who was sentenced to three and a half years in prison in 2013.

Wang was also fined RMB 1 million for “distributing obscene materials for personal gain” while the company itself, Kuaibo or QVOD, had to pay an RMB 10 million fine. At its peak, Kuaibo had 500 million users and around 25% of the video app download market share, more than Baidu and Youku Tudou. Wang Xin was released from prison in November 2017.