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
    +3

    Comment number 287.

    I'd wish they'd stop gold-farming in MMORPGS!!

  • Comment number 286.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 285.

    271.tangmume
    It's not nice knowing people can read your personal details, but at least here there's no chance of being enslaved for saying something online that offended a corrupt local official.
    -
    No just imprisoned like Julian Assange, Gary McKinnon and Bradley Manning.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 284.

    This happens all over,at least the Chinese are open about it. Every single nation Democratic or otherwise are controlling information. At times BBC does not post a blog stating that it is not moderate & must obey rules. I quote "OBEY".In other words there are people other than the general public do not like it even if it is not offensive or rude. Truth is bitter and hurts the elite and the elected

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 283.

    277; I do find that argument amussing; If the government wants to see what I buy online or what I put in an email to a mate they can go ahead and die of boredom. When you get right down to the reasons behind comments like yours its becasue the person in question would be embarassed by something they say/do/buy if it came out and very little to do with it being illegal.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 282.

    "BBC Have knobbled paging down P2"

    Nah. They've been hacked by the evil commies...

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 281.

    Erm, could I get a number 36 with a side-order of freedom of speech and a can of Dr Peppers?

    Also, I haven't actually read the article cos I couldn't be bothered but I'm outraged none the less.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 280.

    #269

    Fair enough - I mean why would people who chose to work somewhere chose to commit suicide....not the best lifestyle choice eh?


    #270
    Prof. how can a quasi capitalist dictatorship be communist err I mean the new word for communist, socialist?

    I don't suppose the Chinese would let us look at their Risk Registers would they?

    China Bad
    Tories Bad

    Same hypocrisy and behaviours.

  • Comment number 279.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 278.

    A good move. Although it's motive can either be applauded or questioned.Is it really aimed at improving security or is it an attempt to restrict the freedom of expression of the users of the internet in China? We'll find out soon enough. For now, I'm in support because the Chinese government has shown its readiness to work on security.

    Osiobor Margaret,
    Caleb University, Imota,
    Lagos, Nigeria

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 277.

    It's interesting that so many comment on this story, while ignoring that our very own government is now planning the biggest breach of internet freedoms and the largest mass-monitoring of the people this nation has ever seen. What our nation is planning to do to us is far worse than what the Soviets were capable of when they were monitoring their people. No better than China.

  • rate this
    -5

    Comment number 276.

    The mind as well as Brain requires continuous feeds to remain alive and hence our Educational System to refine it as we grow-up.While in Internet,all vituals can be modified to do an attraction,Print Media is open.If we able to distinguist good from the bad;it might prove alright but any attempt made to arrest the mind shall face with a failure;citing such an effort to halt evil from growing.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 275.

    236 "access to the internet a human right"

    The UN has determined many things human rights which are in fact values. But then again what has the UN ever been good for?

    But then we all agree that freedom of press & equality before the law are key ingredients to free society. I wonder thus how many posters have embraced Leveson's 1984ish recommendations? Miliband & Clegg anyone.

  • rate this
    -16

    Comment number 274.

    I fail to see the essential problem with "you must fully identify yourself at all times" - I long for the day. The issue in China's case would be the same here, I guess: that those who enforce the rules are not subject to them. Perhaps that's why we're encouraged to value 'privacy', to 'defend' secrets and to cower behind anonymity for 'security'.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 273.

    they're saying you can't lie when you sign up for message boards et cetera? In this country it would make things better as the trolls who make peoples life hell in some cases would be less likely to do so and easier to prosecute if they did anyway. The anonymity of the net has serious downsides as well and there are two sides to every argument. Freedom of expression is not everything.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 272.

    256.bilko
    I have had past discussions with the chinese and I would trust them about as far as I could throw them. Believe them and you believe in fairy stories. They lie and cheat and think its fine. You do it and they are outraged!!
    -
    Do you mean like our politician and their expense scandal? or their war on whistle-blowing? or bankers and their fraud?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 271.

    China has close to 200,000 people in labour camps who, in most cases, were sent there without trial. Giving your real name in China could get you sent to these places. We don't have them in democratic countries. It's not nice knowing people can read your personal details, but at least here there's no chance of being enslaved for saying something online that offended a corrupt local official

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 270.

    China is a socialist country and requires censorship like any other socialist organization. Their internet speech should be moderated according to a set of House Rules.

  • rate this
    -7

    Comment number 269.

    228 Billythefirst
    Interesting article, thnx.

    Those people chose to work at Apple, meaning that before Apple got there, things must have been worse weren't they, otherwise they wouldn't have gone there?
    Why don't the workers just leave?
    Is it the best work available in their area?
    What would happen if there was no Apple factory there?

    What do you think of this: http://mises.org/daily/2384

  • Comment number 268.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

 

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