China proposes tighter controls over Internet


A man uses his computer in a coffee shop in Shanghai on February 2, 2012. PETER PARKS/AFP/Getty Images


Peter Parks

China has revealed planned changes to its rules governing the Internet which will require users who want to post messages on microblogs to register with their real identities, as part of a sweeping move Beijing says is aimed at “promoting healthy, orderly development of the Internet, protecting state security and public interest.”

Under the proposed changes, which were posted Thursday on the websites of the State Council Information Office and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the definition of “Internet service providers” will be expanded to encompass blogs, microblogs and other online forums, microblog operators will be forced to secure an administrative licence, and Internet companies will be required to assist the Chinese security services when necessary, the BBC reports.

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More and more of the half a billion Chinese now online are expressing their frustration at government polices through microblogs, posing a new challenge to the authorities who maintain a tight grip on the country’s traditional media outlets and routinely block Internet searches under the vast “Great Firewall of China” censorship system, according to the Agence France Presse.

According to the Associated Press, Internet firms in China have come under increasing pressure to monitor and control information or risk being shut out of the country’s fast-growing web market.

Last month microblogging site Sina Weibo introduced new regulations under which users who post messages on political topics deemed ‘sensitive’ by Beijing could be banned, while the requirement that microbloggers register with their real identities is already in force in the capital and four other cities.

The proposed changes to China’s Internet laws are open for comments from the public until July 6, the BBC reports

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