China requires Internet users to register names (Update)

Dec 28, 2012 by Joe Mcdonald
A man uses a computer at an internet cafe in central Beijing, China, Friday, Dec. 28, 2012. China's new communist leaders are increasing already tight controls on Internet use and electronic publishing following a spate of embarrassing online reports about official abuses. (AP Photo/Alexander F. Yuan)

China's government tightened Internet controls Friday with approval of a law that requires users to register their names after a flood of online complaints about official abuses rattled Communist Party leaders.

Authorities say the law will strengthen protections for personal information. But it also is likely to curtail the Internet's status as a forum to complain about the government or publicize corruption.

"Their intention is very clear: It is to take back that bit of space for public opinion, that freedom of speech hundreds of millions of Chinese Internet users have strived for," said Murong Xuecun, a prominent Chinese writer.

The rules approved by China's national legislature highlight the chronic tension between the ruling Communist Party's desire to reap technology's benefits and its insistence on controlling information.

Beijing encourages Web use for business and education but tries to block material deemed subversive or obscene. It has steadily stepped up censorship, especially after social media played a role in protests that brought down governments in Egypt and Tunisia.

The latest measure requires users to provide their real names and other identifying information when they register with access providers or post information publicly.

"This is needed for the healthy development of the Internet," said Li Fei, deputy director of the legislature's Legal Work Committee, at a news conference.

Li rejected complaints that the public will be deprived of a forum that has been used to expose misconduct.

"The country's constitution protects citizens' rights in supervising and criticizing the state and government officials' behavior," Li said.

The measure comes amid reports that Beijing might be disrupting use of software that allows Web surfers to see sites abroad that are blocked by its extensive filters.

At the same time, regulators have proposed rules that would bar foreign companies from distributing books, news, music and other material online in China.

The government has given no indication how it will deal with the technical challenge of registering the more than 500 million Chinese who use the Internet.

Microblog operators, two of which say they have more than 300 million users each, were ordered last year to confirm the identities of users but acknowledge they have yet to complete that task.

The main ruling party newspaper, People's Daily, has called weeks for tighter Internet controls, saying rumors spread online have harmed the public.

The secretive ruling party is uneasy about the public's eagerness to discuss politics and sensitive issues online despite threats of punishment.

In March, authorities scrambled to squelch online rumors about a possible coup amid a political crisis that led to the downfall of a prominent party figure, Bo Xilai, ahead of the party's fall leadership transition. A dozen websites were closed and six people detained.

This week, 70 prominent Chinese scholars and lawyers circulated an online petition this week appealing for free speech, independent courts and for the ruling party to encourage private enterprise.

Communist leaders who see the Internet as a promising source of economic growth were slow to enforce the same level of control they impose on movies, books and other media, apparently for fear of hurting e-commerce and other fledgling online businesses.

Until recently, Web surfers could post anonymous comments online or on microblogs.

That gave ordinary Chinese a unique opportunity to express themselves to a public audience in a society where newspapers, television and other media all are state-controlled. Some of the most popular microbloggers have millions of readers.

It also made the Internet a clearinghouse for accusations of official misconduct.

A local party official in China's southwest was fired in November after scenes from a videotape of him having sex with a young woman spread quickly on websites.

Web surfers can circumvent filters by using virtual private networks—encryption software that is used by companies for financial data and other sensitive information. But VPN users say disruptions began in 2011 and are increasing, suggesting regulators are trying to block encrypted traffic.

Explore further: Twitpic to stay alive with new owner

3.7 /5 (3 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

China tightening controls on Internet

Dec 27, 2012

China's new communist leaders are increasing already tight controls on Internet use and electronic publishing following a spate of embarrassing online reports about official abuses.

Beijing issues ultimatum for microblog users

Feb 08, 2012

Microblog users in Beijing who do not register using their real names by mid-March will be banned from posting comments, a local official said on Wednesday, as authorities tighten their grip on the web.

China to tighten Internet control with new rules

Jun 08, 2012

China said Thursday it planned to extend nationwide a requirement for microblog users to register with their real names as part of a sweeping update of rules governing the Internet.

China city tightens control of microblogs

Dec 26, 2011

Shanghai will require microblog users to register under their real names from Monday, state media said, the latest local government in China to implement the rule after a spate of violent protests.

China extends microblog rules to south: report

Dec 22, 2011

China is extending rules requiring microblog users to register under their real names to Guangdong, state media said Thursday, after a spate of violent protests in the southern province.

China could force web users to disclose real names

May 05, 2010

China could introduce a system requiring web users to provide their real names before posting comments online, state media reported Wednesday, as authorities move to tighten control over the Internet.

Recommended for you

Facebook dressed down over 'real names' policy

Sep 17, 2014

Facebook says it temporarily restored hundreds of deleted profiles of self-described drag queens and others, but declined to change a policy requiring account holders to use their real names rather than drag names such as ...

Yelp to pay US fine for child privacy violation

Sep 17, 2014

Online ratings operator Yelp agreed to pay $450,000 to settle US charges that it illegally collected data on children, in violation of privacy laws, officials said Wednesday.

User comments : 15

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

alfie_null
5 / 5 (5) Dec 28, 2012
From the outside, watching the Chinese government's attempts to control information flow is entertaining.
ValeriaT
1 / 5 (3) Dec 28, 2012
Before some time I was warned, that my Google account may become suspended and as such inaccessible, if I don't provide my mobile phone number for "occasional password restoration". I've blog maintained with Blogger service, which has been embraced with Google before years and it was transferred under Google accounts without my permission, so I provided one - but I never read about Google, which issues the rules, which tightens the control on Internet.
ValeriaT
1 / 5 (1) Dec 28, 2012
From the inside, watching the fight of totalitarian governments with globalist companies about control of information and Internet users is not so entertaining. It may be possible that the future free Internet will become secret underground fully encrypted communication network again - in similar way, like the Arpanet at the very beginning. But its capacity will be very limited.
krundoloss
4 / 5 (4) Dec 28, 2012
I understand that with so many people it is necessary to keep control. It seems to me that trying to stop people from complaining about the government is like trying to change human nature. I just wish that every person in China defied the government at one time, while yelling "FREEDOM"!
krundoloss
3.7 / 5 (3) Dec 28, 2012
I also find it hilarious that the strangest porn I have ever seen comes from China and Japan! I guess that oppressive government leads people to become sex freaks behind closed doors......
ryggesogn2
2.3 / 5 (6) Dec 28, 2012
Friedman, Immelt, Obama and other 'progressives' are jealous.
Lantern5
1.6 / 5 (7) Dec 28, 2012
This is what we can do to prevent massacres of innocent children
A) Prohibit the sale of automatic weapons.
B) All gun owners must have a special box with combination lock and special to keep their weapons.
C) The government should initiate a program of recovery of weapons, firearms by changing food supplies and electronics. (If you do not ask the origin of weapon, weapons succeed in recovering thousands)
Lantern5
1.7 / 5 (7) Dec 28, 2012
D) The government should strengthen psychological care programs for young people with special attention to the following points:
1) Constant control of the problem of bullying in schools.
2) special psychological support to young people with problems
Social adaptation. We can improve the self-esteem of these young people, we can increase the feeling of love and empathy for these young people.
We create activities in which these young people get the joy of achieving goals.
We create activities that feel triumphant and successful.
We create activities in which young people learn to help yourself and others is the most important goal of every human being.
If we find ways to fill the minds of young love for themselves and for others and if we teach them to reason to control their actions, then the crime rate will drop.
Lantern5
1.6 / 5 (7) Dec 29, 2012
E) We must create laws to reduce violence in movies and video games. Many films are literally manuals for serial murderers and terrorists.
Video games record the cold-blooded murder in the minds of children. It's almost hypnotic.
Of course, many will defend the rights of film producers and rights of producers of video games. But I tell you that not all of these people millions in profits worth the life of one child.
They can not put more value on money than the life of a child.
A depraved mind by these vices is easy to recognize because those who are depraved defend those who trade in death and perversion rather than advocate for children.
F) Place electronic bookmarks in various weapons and warning systems in parking lots and public places to alert guards near a weapon.
Lantern5
1.8 / 5 (5) Dec 29, 2012
G) Provide schools bulletproof vests and nonlethal weapons very efficient. Each school would have at least three teachers with bulletproof vest and nonlethal weapons.
H) Create systems technology and automatic defenses nonlethal schools would cost infinitely less than the American space program. It's a matter of priorities. What is worth more to you, find out if there are microbes on Mars, or prevent a child from being crushed to death?
The army can handle remote warehouses to fight, in the same way the army can be remotely controlled robots with lethal weapons to fight murderers. The army robots are now clever enough to get from one place to another quickly.
I) must track smarter psychological state and history of violence of gun owners.
Lantern5
1.7 / 5 (6) Dec 29, 2012
J) Those who wish to marry and have children should be educated by the government on a special course that teaches basic notions of morality and proper education of the children (including teaching how to stop coddling the children) Couples can marry if approved the examination after the course "family education". Raising a family is a big responsibility and many couples who marry believe that raising children is like having pets.
K) we put military guards in schools. Female soldier armed with lethal weapons and high-tech guns.
L) These guards should have an excellent personal armor.
M) I once saw a nonlethal weapon throwing jets of glue which hardens rapidly.
Lantern5
1.7 / 5 (6) Dec 29, 2012
N) On another occasion I saw an air cannon that shoots huge networks.
O) There is a system of non-lethal sonic weapon.
P) Destinemos billionaire budget used by NASA to fund the system of military guards in schools. The money spent on NASA remote controlled toys is so unreasonably high that with this huge amount of money is enough to put military guards and armored silicon firearms in all public places in the United States. (The guards must be women with clean police record and not to use drugs and must be continually educated in a moral and logical based on love of neighbor) (Ideally guards are groups of three)
Moebius
2.3 / 5 (3) Jan 01, 2013
Not that I'm a fan of China policies but this one should be the standard everywhere. Anonymity allows trolls to proliferate and do and say things that they wouldn't if they were registered in their true identity. Identity theft would be harder. No more keeping track of multiple passwords and login names. Memorizing one really long secure password would become the norm instead of the exception. Naturally all the trolls will be against this and vote this comment a 1.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Jan 01, 2013
Identity theft would be harder. No more keeping track of multiple passwords and login names.

No more sockpuppetry, for one thing.

But I feel the benefits outweigh the risks. There has to be some privacy. And being forced to use your real name everywhere opens up all kinds of possibilities for profiling - with targetted adverts being the least (albeit still massively obnoxious/dangerous) use.

I guess that oppressive government leads people to become sex freaks

You're right. This is probably also the reason why the most porn (by volume) comes from the US. Oppression/Stigmatization of a subject does tend to focud proplr's mind on it and make a larger market for it (just like alcohol during the prohibition, or drugs under current drug laws).
Sean_W
1 / 5 (1) Jan 01, 2013
Anonymity allows people to express ideas and opinions which they might not want their peer group, family, community or future employers to associate with them. As such, banning anonymity is an appropriate way to enforce conformity and unity of opinion, if that is your preference.

Someone kills; ban the gun.
Someone trolls; ban anonymity.
Someone blasphemes or talks about corruption; take away the freedom they used to do so.

It's all very easy when you stop being a coward about it.