updated 01:33 pm EST, Fri December 28, 2012
Chinese citizens will have to register real names for service
China's Communist Party has formalized a policy requiring Internet users to register with their real names when signing up for Internet service. The move comes just a couple of days after the party announced it was considering such a change to formal policy. Real-name registration has been the de facto standard for Internet service provision in the country for some time now, but the new rules codify the standard, and they introduce a number of other Internet controls as well.
The Chinese government also legalized the deletion of posts and pages containing "illegal" information. Internet service providers are now subject to demands from the government that they hand over such information to the Chinese authorities.
The rules require that service providers "instantly stop the transmission of illegal information once it is spotted and take relevant measures, including removing the information and saving records, before reporting to supervisory authorities."
In combination with the real-name registration policy, the new rules are likely to result in even greater policing of speech in China on an individual level. The government already heavily relies on censorship and site blocking, with popular western sites such as YouTube and Facebook inaccessible from behind China's "Great Firewall."
Government officials say the new rules are necessary in order to stem the tide of anonymous accusations made online. Reuters reports that the a Chinese official warned, "When people exercise their rights, including the right to use the Internet, they must do so in accordance with the law and constitution, and not harm the legal rights of the state, society... or other citizens."