By Adith Charlie
China has approved tighter Internet control norms that will require web users to register their real names with Internet service providers, the state-owned Xinhua news agency had said.
This move aims to put an end to anonymous online comments and postings on websites and microblogs. The new rules require Internet service providers to delete posts that are deemed “illegal” and report them to the authorities.
While the Chinese establishment believes the law will strengthen protections for personal information, Internet users feel that the move further dissuades citizens from using the web as a forum to complain about the misdeeds of government officials.
The Xinhua report says that the decision will “ensure internet information security, safeguard the lawful rights and interests of citizens, legal entities or other organizations and safeguard national security and social public interests.”
It may be recalled that a recent spate of online activism had exposed scandals involving several Chinese government officials. In March, online rumours had surfaced about a possible coup in China amid a political crisis that led to the downfall of a prominent party figure, Bo Xilai. In November, a local party official in Southwest China was fired after scenes from a videotape of him having sex with a young woman went viral on the Internet.
Interestingly, the government has not revealed how it will register the more than 500 million Internet users in China.
Internet censorship in China is considered more extensive than in any other country in the world. Government authorities not only block website content but also monitor the Internet access of individuals. Newspapers, television and other media are also controlled by the state.