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China Enforces Real-Name Policy to Control Online Comments

China Enforces Real-Name Policy to Control Online Comments

If you live in China, your Internet life within the borders will soon be even more challenging. Last Friday, China’s top Internet regulator¬†announced¬†a new set of rules that would force citizens to post comments using their real-world identities on Internet forums and other web platforms. Yes, you heard that right. Anonymity is about to die in the country. The Cyber Administration of China (CAC) will start formally imposing the new instructions starting from October 1, 2017, requiring websites operators and service providers of online forums to request and verify real names and other personal information from users when they register and must immediately report illegal content to the authorities. According to the CAC, the succeeding content would be measured unlawful and forbidden from being published online:

  • Opposing the elementary values as defined in the Constitution
  • Threatening national security
  • Harmful nation’s honor and interests
  • Inciting national hatred, ethnic discrimination and undermining national unity
  • Undermining nation’s religious policies and promoting cults
  • Spreading gossips, troublesome social order and abolishing social stability
  • Spreading pornography, gambling, violence, murder, terror or abetting a crime
  • Insulting or slandering others and infringing upon others
  • Any other content that is prohibited by laws and administrative regulations

Well, the list covers almost everything.

While China has already imposed “real-name registration” guidelines on the prominent online platforms like¬†Weibo and WeChat¬†for a little years, the latest regulations would cover the remaining parts of the online world, including online communities and discussion forums. The new commands will be enforced on websites, interactive communications platforms, smartphone apps and any communication platform that features news or functions to “mobilize society.” In fact, news sites even have to moderate comments before publishing. These new regulations follow¬†China’s 14-month-long crackdown on VPN¬†(Virtual Private Networks), which requires VPN service providers in the country to obtain prior government approval, making most VPN vendors in the country of 730 million web users banned.

Late last month, Apple also removed some VPN apps, including Express VPN and Star VPN, from its official Chinese app store to comply with the government crackdown that will remain in place until March 31, 2018.

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