Pushing forward reforms
As an entirely new endeavor, Internet courts have no precedent, and therefore face challenges in institutional design and real operation.
“The design should break with traditional institutions and solve real problems arising from the Internet in an original way. It is not just the Internet plus a traditional court, but creating a new procedure to handle lawsuits from jurisdiction to case filing and hearing,” said Zhou Hanhua, a researcher with Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS).
The authentication of evidence collected from online platforms is hard to guarantee. “An online transaction involves the seller, the buyer and the platform. But all of the data that can be used as evidence are generated and controlled by the platform; even the professional accreditation agency finds it difficult to tell whether they are fake or not,” said Yang Ming, Deputy Director of the Internet Law Center with Peking University.
He suggested that mechanisms to ensure the impartiality of the third-party platform should be put in place. “The data ports of the court, online platform and accreditation agency can be connected,” Yang added.
The latest report released by China Internet Network Information Center showed that China had 751 million Internet users by the end of this June. Of China’s 1.38 billion population almost half have no access to the Internet. “The new court is for ordinary people. Those who are unfamiliar with the Internet should also be considered,” said Zhou.
Li Lin, Director of the Institute of Law with CASS, believed that setting up an Internet court showed the direction for China’s judicial reform. “It is revolutionizing traditional judicial philosophy, and the methods of hearing and trial. New technologies of big data, cloud computing and artificial intelligence can be applied to the judicial system to optimize and regulate the proceedings,” he said.