Proposed Guidelines for “Minors’ Modes”

by Jeremy Daum | 2023/08/04 1:57 PM

New draft Guidelines for “Minors’ Modes” that limit functions and content on mobile devices and applications have been released for public comment through September 2, 2023. The guidelines seek to give parents sufficient information, access, and management authority to help them protect their minors from harm.

In recent years, China has placed great emphasis on protecting minors online, even adding a new section on “online protections” to the Law on the Protection of Minors. Regulations on the Protection of Minors Online have been released twice in draft form, and a finalized version is expected soon.  The primary areas of concern have been shielding internet addiction (particularly to online games), excessive spending online, cyberviolence, and sexual exploitation. [For more background see Chapter V of our overview of recent legal reforms involving Minors in China]

It is not clear that these Guidelines are intended to be compulsory. Their release as “Guidelines” rather than standards etc. is one indication, as is their consistent use of should (应) rather than shall (应当)in mentioning specific tasks, not to mention the lack of a section explaining liability for failures to comply.

Main Concepts

Three themes underly the proposed guidelines:

  1. Parental Control
  2. Age Classification
  3. Linking three levels of service provider

Parental Control: The overwhelming thrust of the regulations is to give parents (heads of household) control over their children’s mobile internet use. Minors’ Modes will allow one or more associated parental accounts that will receive information on the minors’ use of their device and specific apps. Parents will also have the ability to modify all of the mode’s settings to extend or limit usage periods and allow or block further content (except as expressly prohibited by law).

Age-Classification: In recognition of the different needs of minors at different developmental stages, the guidelines divide minors into age brackets for purposes of setting default daily time limits, download permissions, and content recommendations.Linking Three Levels of Provider: Minors’ Modes are intended to cover mobile internet devices, apps, and app stores, and call for the establishment of interfaces and data sharing so that Minors’ Mode users are recognized across the different levels, avoiding the need for duplicative setup.

Key Provisions 



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Jeremy Daum is a Senior Fellow of the Yale Law School Paul Tsai China Center, based in Beijing, with over a decade of experience working in China on collaborative legal reform projects. His principal research focus is criminal procedure law, with a particular emphasis on protections of vulnerable populations such as juveniles and the mentally ill in the criminal justice system, and is also an authority on China’s ‘Social Credit System’. Jeremy has spoken about these issues at universities throughout China and in the U.S.; and has co-authored a book on U.S. Capital Punishment Jurisprudence for Chinese readers. He is also the founder and contributing editor of the collaborative translation and commentary site, dedicated to improving mutual understanding between legal professionals in China and abroad.
He translates, writes, edits, does web-design, graphic design, billing, tech support, and social media outreach for China Law Translate.

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