New Law Authorizes Use of Digital Files in China's Civil Lawsuits

快3开奖结果查询You have the right to remain silent, and anything you type can and will be used against you in a court of law. Or so goes a new law?announced by?China's?Supreme People's Court, which states that for the first time in Chinese history, a?citizens'?online chat history and other digital documents and files can be used as official?evidence in civil trials.

The new law is part of the?Supreme People’s Court's latest revisions to?"Evidence in Civil Procedures," which passed on Oct 14 and?was promulgated for implementation on Dec 26.?The law is set to?take effect on?May 1, 2020.

While material from digital devices, chat histories, and other social media have already been used as evidence in court cases in China – in 2014, for example, a woman who was owed RMB 100,000 was able to successfully sue her defendant after using her WeChat history as evidence –?they have so far been the exception rather than?the rule. Now, the government is taking concrete steps to better define what and how digital documents can be used in court.

The Supreme People’s Court also released??of?how it intends to judge the validity of the digital documents.

The new definition of the digital document includes almost every kind of material you could imagine, from content?posted on websites, personal blogs, and social media to?text messages, images, audio files, video files, emails, and?messages sent via other apps.

快3开奖结果查询Based on the understanding that people's online presence and social media activity are?progressively?seen as a digital parallel?of their lives, and therefore indicative of?real-world behavior, the consequences of using digital documents to prove guilt or innocence obviously has concerning implications. Additionally, in a world where digital evidence is playing an increasingly important role in civil and criminal litigation, only measured and thorough division of intent and proof of authenticity can guarantee its success as a tool for conviction.?

On the one hand, it's easy to jump to negative conclusions about how these new rules may be used to?further tighten?China's control over its people, but similar laws relating to digital materials have already existed in other countries around the world for years. This new development also means?that we have a much better chance of getting the deposit owed to us by our 2014 landlord.

快3开奖结果查询Full details about the new law can be found on the??(in Chinese).

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Image: the Beijinger