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Sony PSN update to rules of conduct for Chinese mainland users stirs controversy

作者:admin 2020-10-22

Sony PSN update to rules of conduct for Chinese mainland users stirs controversy

Chinese consumers experience digital devices sold in Sony's first direct retail outlet in Nanjing, capital of East China's Jiangsu Province on Saturday, the store's official opening day. Covering an area of 600 square meters, the store is Sony's sixth in the Chinese mainland. Photo: VCG

Sony's latest update to the rules of conduct for Chinese mainland users subscribing to its PlayStation Network (PSN) has stirred controversy about the Japanese entertainment giant's greater compliance with Chinese laws and regulations. 

Such an update shouldn't be over-interpreted, as it typifies the prevailing trend of foreign businesses becoming increasingly aligned with local regulatory requirements, a gaming industry veteran said.

Users with the mainland as their area of residence may not use their accounts or PSN - Sony Interactive Entertainment's digital media service -  "in any way to create, reproduce, publish or disseminate any information" that opposes the basic principles of China's Constitution, endangers its national security, divulges State secrets, or jeopardizes the nation's sovereignty and unification, among other activities to the detriment of national interests and social stability, according to a posting of the recently updated terms of service and user agreement on the website of PSN. 

Although the update specifically targets mainland users, there have been concerns that users in the company's greater China region, especially Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) where a new national security law went into force on June 30, might be subject to the updated code of conduct. 

Sony declined to comment on the update when reached by the Global Times on Wednesday.

The move was a normal update to the firm's legal compliance in the Chinese mainland market, Sun Hui, chairman and CEO of Beijing Lucky99 Software Technology, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

Sun said that overseas gaming device vendors and content providers have over the years ramped up efforts to be in compliance with local laws and regulations.

Game users are increasingly sensitive about following the law, especially when it comes to activities that might damage national interests, Sun said, and the rise of patriotism among youngsters, a major force in the games market, has prompted gaming companies to attach more importance to obeying the law.

Calls for foreign businesses to raise their legal and regulatory awareness have not been confined to the gaming arena. 

For instance, US fashion brand Unif incensed Chinese web users earlier this year by listing HKSAR on par with China on its site and app information.

Some Chinese buyers reprimanded the listing as ignoring the one-China principle and urged a boycott to make the company pay for its wrongdoing. 

Another example was Italian luxury brand Versace's apology last year for a controversial T-shirt that mislabeled Hong Kong and Macao as countries.

While every company can set its own pace of staying attuned to local laws and rules, more companies are being more careful in this regard, experts said.

Sun said that it's equally important for Chinese companies with operations in overseas markets to respond to local regulatory demands in a timely manner.

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