China approves tighter rules on internet access

 
File photo of free internet service at Beijing airport Hundreds of millions of people in China use the internet, although its content is closely monitored by the authorities

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China has tightened its rules on internet usage to enforce a previous requirement that users fully identify themselves to service providers.

The move is part of a package of measures which state-run Xinhua news agency said would protect personal information.

But critics believe the government is trying to limit freedom of speech.

The announcement will be seen as evidence China's new leadership views the internet as a threat.

The Chinese authorities closely monitor internet content that crosses its borders and regularly block sensitive stories through use of what is known as the Great Firewall of China.

However, it has not stopped hundreds of millions of Chinese using the internet, many of them using micro-blogging sites to expose, debate and campaign on issues of national interest.

In recent months, the internet and social media have been used to orchestrate mass protests and a number of corrupt Communist Party officials have been exposed by individuals posting criticisms on the internet.

Internet v officialdom

  • Organisation of mass protests via social media forced officials to scrap environmentally-questionable projects in Shifang and Qidong
  • Shaanxi official Yang Daca sacked after internet campaign exposed his many expensive watches, deemed unaffordable on a provincial official's salary
  • District-level Party boss Lei Zhengfu sacked after a video clip of him having sex with an 18-year-old girl appears on the internet

The new measures come a month after a new leadership, led by Xi Jinping, was installed by the ruling Communist Party.

The new man in charge of the internet, Liu Qibao, has a reputation for taking a hard line on media control. He recently called for "more research on how to strengthen the construction, operation and management of the Internet and promote mainstream online themes".

'Safeguards'

The new measures now formally require anyone signing agreements to access the internet, fixed-line telephone and mobile devices to provide network service operators with "genuine identification information", known as real-name registration, Xinhua reports.

Real-name registration was supposed to be have been implemented in 2011 but was not widely enforced.

China's biggest internet firm, Sina Corp, warned earlier this year in a public document that such a move would "severely reduce" traffic to its hugely-successful micro-blogging site Weibo, China's equivalent to Twitter with more than 300 million users.

Under the new rules, network service providers will also be required to "instantly stop the transmission of illegal information once it is spotted" by deleting the posts and saving the records "before reporting to supervisory authorities".

The measures are designed to "ensure internet information security, safeguard the lawful rights and interests of citizens... and safeguard national security and social public interests", and were approved by China's top legislature at the closing session of a five-day meeting on Friday, Xinhua reports.

The calls for tighter controls of the internet have been led by state media, which said that rumours spread on the web could harm the public and sow chaos and confusion.

The government has said officially that it welcomes the exposure of official abuses, but a new generation of ever bolder bloggers and commentators pose a threat that the leadership seems determined to counter, the BBC's Charles Scanlon reports.

 

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  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 67.

    45 Billy, for some reasons, many racist Westerners like to call out Chinese people running Chinese restaurants and "takeaways" or running laundry mat as a form of insult or making fun of them. At least these Chinese people are having their own businesses and making money with their own hands; I think they should make fun of you more for being racist.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 66.

    Sometimes truth is so hard to take..thats why these rules are brought in..

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 65.

    Freedom of speech is a myth

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 64.

    I believe China is getting more democratic with the its new leaders. We Chinese are much civilized people than those who addressed us as barbaric!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 63.

    China needs to give more freedom to the mass. It's a new generation of young people and a revolution could erupt if space is not given to the masses.

  • rate this
    -27

    Comment number 62.

    So China takes a look at how the internet's adversely impacted the West and takes steps to ensure it doesn't happen there? Good on yer China! The internet has enriched the lives of Westerners but has also provided a breeding ground for depravity and subversiveness. Porn rings, bomb making books, stalkers, trolls, to name a few. China's right in its actions. It's the West that needs to get real.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 61.

    "Bastiat
    Is ur Intellectual cowardice confirmed by not answering"

    No. I have better things to do than constantly monitor and respond to your facile strawman arguments. Especially when you refuse to answer direct questions put to you. Doubtless you'll be arguing here that China has more freedom!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 60.

    Hi Guys

    Wake up. I assume you are still in Christmas hangover.

    Anybody ever heard of GCHQ?

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 59.

    The BBC deny us the ability to comment on the BBC Scottish Political Blogs - different treatment from the rest of the UK although we pay the same licence. Political cencorship by the BBC - I have to laugh when the BBC come across all high and mighty criticising other countries.

  • rate this
    +54

    Comment number 58.

    In the UK we would do well to acknowledge the level of civil liberty that we still have. It is worth protecting and worth fighting for.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 57.

    for 02, jparker, they already are, never heard of satcom? morwenstow is an interesting place.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 56.

    Re 44:

    That's just evilphobic. Why do us evil folk get constantly discriminated against in this society? the internet was created for good and evil. We can share it no?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 55.

    Posters on HYS remind me of senior citizens, when talking to youngsters.

    "You think you have it tough - in my day I worked 3 hrs down pit before school"

    Likewise.

    "China thinks they have it tough - we in the UK have it worse."

    Wake up and stop being paranoid.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 54.

    @ gfr1 & r04dh06 (two Quisling posters with the same sort of weird PLA-esque usernames...hmm)

    "I know two Mothers who would disagree with that information, their crime," (notice r04dh06 uses Mandarin Chinese syntax)...

    Typical Commie propaganda, vicious & manipulative. That is part of the nature of a dictatorship - the state has no bounds. Chinese govt posts because it fears Western freedom.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 53.

    41. Yep Stalin and Mao certianly encourged free speech not to mention of course our favourite lefties in Cuba.

    To suggest that left or rightwing dictatorships have been any better than totehr at protecting freedom is absurd.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 52.

    Until the people of china protest there is little that can be done except to demonstrate the 'joys of free expression' that there are elsewhere in the world.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 51.

    One day in the future all internet activity will be controlled by Governments throughout the world.

    It is inevitable.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 50.

    Real DEMOCRACY is the ability for citizens to access information so that they can THINK for themselves, form their OWN opinions and make their OWN decisions.

    The freely available information and its speed of dissemination is a massive threat to governments and powerful organisations who want to CONTROL what people think and do.

    China today...the UK tomorrow.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 49.

    gfr1

    Difference between our country and China. In China the people know exactly where they stand. They might not like it but at least they know where they stand. This country , if you say something that someone in authority doesn't like or agree with they either threaten you with legal action, ignore you or cover the issue up.

    What, you've no idea of this at all.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 48.

    @39 Little_Old_Me
    Fair play mate, your right. I stand corrected :)

 

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