The parliament of the Chinese province of Jiangsu has approved a law making it illegal for people in the city of Xuzhou to publish ‘private information’ on the Internet, the China Daily newspaper reports.

It seems that the Communist Party powers that be in eastern China, as elsewhere in the country, have been paying closer attention to bloggers and social networking sites.

And no wonder.

Just last month, bloggers in Xuzhou reportedly posted photos of a public housing official wearing an expensive wristwatch and smoking exotic cigarettes — luxuries deemed beyond the means of a low-level civil servant’s salary. The official was subsequently dismissed

Observers say that the man was fired largely because so much public attention had been focused on him — call it the harsh light of the Internet — not because of his corrupt behaviour.

And, now, the provincial government there has made it illegal to post ‘personal information’ — widely seen as a euphemism for ‘embarrassing facts’ — on pain of penalties including a fine of up to 5,000 yuan and a six-month loss of Internet access.

But Chinese legal experts say the new Jiangsu province law my be unconstitutional. Beijing lawyer Dong Zhengwei told the China Daily that under Chinese law, publishing information about people is legal as long as it is accurate. “It’s fair for members of the public to monitor public officials but … if they publish things about them that are not true they will be breaking the law.”

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