Chinese news websites have implemented new rules stating that all users have to register their true identities before allowing them to post comments.
Such internet regulations have often been rejected by internet companies and sites due to privacy issues and the fact that many people often wish to post comments under anonymity, but China’s online population is heavily policed and any political debate is heavily clamped down upon.
Last year, the Chinese government tried to introduce a censorship software called Green Dam, that was to be installed on all PCs sold in the country. It turned out to be a massive failure with the proposal being widely condemned by the online community and heavy lobbying by manufacturers.
As a result, the new guidelines from Beijing are their latest attempt to suppress free speech online.
Currently, the country has an E-population of over 800 million and controlling the activity of the large number of users has been a constant problem for the Chinese government. Newspapers such as the New York Times and The Guardian have reported that the new change in policy comes from “secret government orders issued in July”, citing unnamed senior editors at two of the leading sites affected, such as Chinese media portals Sina, Netease and Sohu.
The government has called the measure part of a drive to forge greater “social responsibility” and “civility” among users, yet have suppressed reports regarding it.
Proponents, led by officials and state-connected academics in the information security field, have stated that such mandatory controls are necessary to help subdue inflammatory attacks, misinformation and other illegal activity deemed to endanger social order, but critics have said the new regulation was simply an incursion on free speech.
The new system is far from perfect though.
Whereas before any person could comment on stories under a pseudonym, now they are forced to enter full names, identification numbers and phone numbers just to write a response. Many reports have already stated that false numbers and details are already in circulation in order to circumvent such restrictions.
But you didn’t hear that from us…