China requires Internet users to register names

by JOE McDONALD, Yahoo News  |  published on December 31, 2012

China

China’s government tightened Internet controls Friday with approval of a law that requires users to register their names after a flood of online complaints about official abuses rattled Communist Party leaders.

Authorities say the law will strengthen protections for personal information. But it also is likely to curtail the Internet’s status as a forum to complain about the government or publicize corruption.

“Their intention is very clear: It is to take back that bit of space for public opinion, that freedom of speech hundreds of millions of Chinese Internet users have strived for,” said Murong Xuecun, a prominent Chinese writer.

The rules approved by China’s national legislature highlight the chronic tension between the ruling Communist Party’s desire to reap technology’s benefits and its insistence on controlling information.

Beijing encourages Web use for business and education but tries to block material deemed subversive or obscene. It has steadily stepped up censorship, especially after social media played a role in protests that brought down governments in Egypt and Tunisia.

The latest measure requires users to provide their real names and other identifying information when they register with access providers or post information publicly.

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