China sets up platform to police gaming firm violations

BEIJING (AP) – Chinese regulators have set up a platform that allows the public to report on gaming companies they believe are violating restrictions on online game times for children.

China’s National Press and Publication Administration (NPPA) set up the platform. It enables holders of Chinese ID cards to report violations and furnish proof, effectively giving the public the power to police gaming firms such as Tencent and NetEase.

This follows China’s decision to impose the time limits of just three hours a week for minors to combat Internet games addiction in children. Gaming companies are expected to enforce the limit of one hour of online games on Friday, Saturday and Sunday between 8pm and 9pm. An earlier limit allowed 90 minutes on most days.

Other online platforms exist in China for consumer complaints or the reporting of “illegal and harmful” activities online. But it’s rare for such a site to focus on specific restrictions within an industry.

Parents have again welcomed the new limits. They previously also lauded restrictions that banned children from gaming overnight and limited game time to 90 minutes on weekdays.

Regulators said that gaming companies are responsible for enforcing these restrictions via real-name registration systems, which would enable them to limit game time for minors and the amount of money they can spend in these games.

A child playing a game on a smartphone in Beijing. PHOTO: AP

Regulators summoned gaming firms earlier this month and urged them to safeguard children’s mental and physical health.

The companies were ordered to clean up their game content and ensure it is free of “wrong” values such as violence.

Chinese authorities are seeking to curb influences deemed “unhealthy” for young people, including online gaming and “irrational” celebrity fan culture.

The campaign is part of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s push for “national rejuvenation” for a healthier, more powerful nation.

The campaign expands government influence over many aspects of life, from the economy and technology to culture, education, religion and society.

For many people in recovery from opioid addictions or who have lost loved ones to overdoses, the deal is infuriating.

Ellen Isaacs, a mother whose son died from an overdose, filed court papers requesting Drain not to accept the plan. At a hearing on Monday, she gave a passionate sometimes tearful 40-minute speech on her request. Like other activists, she asserted that Sackler family members – who have never been charged with criminal wrongdoing – are getting away with crimes, and that politicians and courts are not doing enough to end the opioid epidemic.

“The attorneys are playing games on paper and humans are dying,” she said.

Drain said the money from the settlement would help avert more deaths, even if it will come too late for Isaacs’ son.

“I did not become a judge to get things wrong,” he told her.

He stood by his confirmation of the plan.

At the hearing, Drain also said he would approve a request from Purdue to use nearly USD7 million to start setting up the funds that will distribute settlement money to victims, government entities and others. He also, for the third year, approved a plan of incentive payments for Purdue executives if they meet certain goals.