China Moves to Ban Anonymous Blogging

This story from the PRC's propaganda wire, Xinhua won't likely get much play in the leftist world which believes that Chimpybushitlerhalliburtonfoleyisgay is the real threat to world-wide free speech. China is continuing its crackdown on opposing free speech, this time, signaling that it will move toward forcing anyone who wants to make a blog do so under their real names, making it easier to crack down on dissent.

NANCHANG -- With widespread online rumor saying China will implement a blog real name system, the Internet Society of China (ISC) has clarified that so far the Ministry of Information Industry has not officially made any related policies.

However, a real name system will be an unavoidable choice if China wants to standardize and develop its blog industry, Huang Chengqing, ISC secretary general, told Xinhua on Sunday.

An official with the ISC confirmed on Thursday that the society is working on a real name system for Chinese bloggers, which attested to netizens' longtime guess about it and triggered a hot controversy.

Huang said some reports on the Internet about the implementation of the real name system are not "very accurate."

The ISC, affiliated to the Ministry of Information Industry, was entrusted by the ministry to form a blog research panel to provide solutions for the development of China's blog industry.

"We suggest, in a recent report submitted to the ministry, that a real name system be implemented in China's blog industry," Huang said.

Under such a system, a netizen has to register with his real name to open a blog, but can still write under a pseudonym, according to Huang.

Yet the panel also pointed out in their report that a lot of preparatory work must be done before the real name system officially runs.

"For example, a complete personal data protection system should be established in advance," Huang said, adding that the system will not be put into operation before listening to opinions and advice from the huge number of netizens.

Different opinions are seen on the Internet toward whether or not the system should be implemented.

A netizen named Xiaosha said the real name system may water down speech liberty and flexibility of bloggers and even threaten the safety of their privacies.

However, another netizen called Tinghai believed that the tricks, porns and rights infringement in China's blogs will never be curbed or reduced unless a real name system is shaped and starts running.

Some bloggers anonymously disseminate irresponsible and untrue information via the Internet, bringing about very bad influences not only to individuals but to society as a whole.

In August, 2006, associate professor Chen Tangfa from Nanjing University won his lawsuit against a blog company.

Chen accused the company of having failed to properly deal with some insulting comments on him, which were spread by an anonymous blogger on the Internet.

Huang said the foundation of the blog real name system is an equilibrium between freedom and responsibility. "There exists no freedom without any abstention, and to limit also benefits the further development of this industry."

He said the system they have recommended is a background real name system, which requires bloggers provide their real names and other real information when applying for a blog but allows them to use pseudonyms in their blog articles.

According to ISC's survey, about half of Chinese netizens support the real name system. Another survey showed that half of the bloggers opened their blogs to "share with others their own thoughts and resources," and some others to store materials and data, communicate, and keep up with the latest information.

China has about 17.5 million bloggers according to a recent ISC report.

Here's some more context from Reuters:

China has already imposed some controls on Internet chatter about politically sensitive subjects, which often goes far beyond what is permissible in the country's traditional state-run media.

Last year, the Ministry of Information Industry issued regulations on Internet news content that analysts said was aimed at extending rules governing licensed news outlets to blogs and Internet-only news sites.

Participation in university on-line discussion groups has also been restricted to students.

Just like political censorship proponents in this country, the Chinese censorers are cloaking their efforts in the guise of "protecting" people.
Matthew Sheffield
Matthew Sheffield
Matthew Sheffield, creator of NewsBusters and president of Dialog New Media, an internet marketing and design firm, left NewsBusters at the end of 2013