In a landmark decision, China’s government has escalated the theft of digital items like non-fungible tokens (NFTs) to a criminal offense. The statement, issued on November 10, states that such acts will attract traditional theft penalties.
Chinese legal authorities have now categorized the theft of digital collections as a serious crime, which includes unauthorized access to computer systems to obtain these virtual assets. This move not only reinforces the legal status of digital items as property but also marks them as valuable assets protected under the property law.
NFTs, which utilize blockchain technology to ensure uniqueness and security of digital assets, have been specifically targeted in this declaration. Despite a general prohibition on cryptocurrency transactions, China recognizes the necessity to protect the ownership and transfer rights of these digital assets.
This policy update comes amid a wave of interest in NFTs within China. Reports show that major platforms like Alibaba’s Xianyu have begun loosening restrictions on NFT-related activities. Moreover, the Chinese government-backed China Daily has expressed intentions to develop its own NFT platform, reflecting a nuanced approach to the evolving digital economy.
The Chinese legal system’s recognition of NFTs as “network virtual property” is a significant step toward integrating digital assets within the framework of established property rights, indicating a growing acceptance of the digital ownership model and the potential for a regulated market in the future.
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