China, according to state media, has launched a digital “cyber-court” in an effort to deal with rising internet-related crimes. The first case – a copyright dispute between an online writer and a web company – was heard on August 18, at the new Hangzhou Internet Court.
The trial, which lasted around 20 minutes, according to BBC, was accessed by legal agents in Hangzhou and Beijing via their computers. The court will hear similar cases in the future related to the internet, including online shopping disputes.
Rather than appear before a judge in person, defendants and plaintiffs appear before the judge via video-chat. Wang Jiangqiao, the cyber-court’s VP, said via state media that it “breaks geographic boundaries and greatly saves time in traditional hearings.”
China experienced its first trials streamed online in September 2016 in an apparent effort to portray transparency and trustworthiness of the system. But not all trials appear online, as controversial political cases will remain far from the public’s eye.
By visiting the website tingshen.court.gov.cn, you can choose which Chinese province you wish to see trials broadcast from. Split screens provide a perspective of defendants, judges and lawyers. The site also offers the ability to play back some previous trials.