Livestreamers face penalties for accosting passersby on the street

Chen Xiaoli
In one case in Beijing, a streamer trailed behind passersby after being rejected, filming and commenting on the appearance and clothing of the women.
Chen Xiaoli
Edited by Sun Chao.

"Hi, girl, take a street shot?" "What a good figure!" Nowadays, more and more livestreams and short videos appear on online platforms in which streamers accost passersby on the street, and many people become the subjects of the videos without knowing it.

Streamers usually choose bustling commercial areas or tourist attractions to chase passersby, strike up conversations, and make various requests.

In one case in Beijing, a streamer trailed behind passersby after being rejected, filming and commenting on the appearance and clothing of the women.

In another case, a streamer used "blind dating for netizens" as a gimmick and traveled all over the country to chat with women. Within the first 40 minutes of the live broadcast, the streamer approached seven or eight girls.

Knowing that the passersby were underage, one streamer still made excessive requests, asking for physical contact during the process.

Legal experts said that the acts of verbal and physical harassment of strangers on the streets, follow-ups, candid shots, and uploading the other party's videos to the Internet without their permission or even their knowledge, may run afoul of the law. Depending on the circumstances, the livestreamers violate personal rights such as personal privacy, reputational rights, and others. Some streamers' behavior may even constitute sexual harassment.

Zhu Wei, vice director of the Communication Law Research Center at the China University of Political Science and Law, said that harassing people in public has violated provisions of the Public Security Penalty Law. "If harassment is excessive, you should immediately report it to the police."

In recent years, cases and disputes have arisen from time to time about streamers secretly filming, accosting and harassing passersby.

In July 2019, a female streamer in Hefei, Anhui Province, tried to attract fans by "harassing" passersby, and she was eventually detained by police for eight days for provoking trouble.

In September 2020, a male streamer broadcast on the street asking multiple women for kisses, and even following a drunk woman. After his behavior was reported by netizens, the livestreaming platform banned his account permanently and added him to the blacklist.

There are regulations on outdoor live broadcast in which streamers are strictly prohibited from verbal and physical harassment of passersby during the live broadcast. However, to draw traffic, some streamers ignore the regulations, and some platforms do not strictly enforce the rules.

Livestreaming has become one of the country's most lucrative and fast-growing entertainment and e-commerce sectors.

To crack down on the unregulated webcasts and short videos, Chinese authorities have issued laws and regulations, encouraging websites, platforms and self-media to strictly fulfill their main responsibilities and further strengthen content review management.

According to a report released by the livestreaming branch of the China Association of Performing Arts in May, the number of online livestreaming service users in China reached 617 million in 2020, accounting for 62.4 percent of the total number of Internet users in China, while the number of livestreaming streamer accounts exceeded 130 million.

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