Chinese web censorship closing in

New law requires users reveal real names online

GMT 15:53 2013 Friday ,04 January

Arab Today, arab today New law requires users reveal real names online

Incumbent reformist Xi Jingping has not relaxed web censorship
Beijing – Arabstoday

Incumbent reformist Xi Jingping has not relaxed web censorship Beijing – Arabstoday China’s new tightened policy requiring real names of Internet and other users when registering has triggered "heated discussion," official media has reported. The issue relates to last week's legislative approval of rules requiring users to provide their actual names to identify themselves to providers of Internet and telecommunications services.
The Xinhua News Agency reported participants in the public "heated discussion" include both supporters and opponents of the new policy.
China has more than half a billion online users and already has stringent Internet censorship.
Xinhua reported some online users say the new policy will make them more cautious when airing their views, but others claimed the concern was unnecessary.
"Zhang Lifan,” writing on the popular Internet portal, was quoted as saying the new policy will affect online communication and reduce user participation in political discussions.
However, Yin Yungong, Director of the Institute of Journalism and Communication at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the policy will help tackle malicious rumours at the source, Xinhua said.
"The policy will ensure online information spreads in an orderly and safe way,” Yin said, adding users will gradually get used to the changes.
Xinhua said several Chinese telecom service providers already require real-name registration.
The report said Sina Weibo, a popular micro blogging site used by whistle-blowers to expose official corruption, began requiring real-name registration since the start of this year.
Both sides in the discussion, however, insist on strict protection of their online ID information. Some expressing doubts over whether the government would be able to give that assurance.
"I doubt the government's ability to ensure the security of our information," wrote a Sina Weibo user.
Xinhua quoted a May survey by the China Centre for Information Industry Development in which more than 60 percent of respondents complained of theft of their personal information.
The report also quoted a commentary on that the new policy is aimed at strengthening protection of online information. It said most people who shop online have used their real identities.
According to standard censorship practices in the Communist country, Chinese censors block websites that discuss such topics as Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama or the 1989 crackdown on the Tiananmen Square democracy protesters, The New York Times reported. The report said throughout 2012, such restrictions only became tighter.
China went through leadership transition in November during the Communist Party congress, which raised hopes the new team led by reformist Xi Jingping would ease the restrictions, but so far there have been no major changes.
The Voice of America said the new rules come in the wake of a crackdown on virtual private networks [VPNs] which Web users need to get around China's so-called "Great Firewall."
Source: UPI

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