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China launches its first digital “cyber-court” to settle internet-related disputes

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China has launched its first digital “cyber-court” in the city of Hangzhou, dubbed the “capital of Chinese e-commerce,” to tackle the increasing number of internet-related disputes.

The Hangzhou Internet Court, which opened on Friday, will handle all aspects of a case online from beginning to end. It will handle cases such as online trade disputes, copyright lawsuits and product liability claims for online purchases.

It’s already heard its first case regarding a copyright infringement dispute between an online writer and a web company.

Du Qian, the cyber-court chief justice, told the official Supreme People’s Court news agency that the cyber court will “offer regular people an efficient, low-cost solution to these new kinds of disputes that take place on the internet.”

“Not only will this make lawsuits as convenient as online shopping, but it will also give online shopping the same degree of judicial protection as consumption at brick-and-mortar stores.”

Defendants and plaintiffs appear before the judge via video-chat.

China first began streaming some trails in traditional courtrooms online last year as part of an effort to make the legal system more transparent.

However, the move was not welcomed by everyone.

Human rights lawyer Liang Xiaojun told the BBC at the time:

“I don’t think it’s appropriate to broadcast trials online because many people involved in these cases probably don’t want the public to share their personal information,”