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China looks to increase Internet regulation, decrease anonymity

Chinese Internet regulators have plans to drastically reduce internet anonymity by requiring users to use their real names when posting on certain Chinese websites, according to documents [text] released Tuesday by New York-based human rights group Human Rights in China (HRIC) [advocacy website]. The documents contain various versions of an April 29 speech to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress by Wang Chen [official profile, in Chinese], Director of the State Council Information Office of the People's Republic of China and Deputy Director of the Propaganda Department of the Communist Party of China [official websites, in Chinese]. The HRIC website provides two different texts of the speech, the original posted May 4 and an abridged version [text] posted the next day, from which all mention of the identity disclosure requirements was removed [text comparison] before the speech was apparently removed from the SCIO speech archive [official website] altogether. Much of the excised material details the Chinese government's past efforts and future plans to constrict the flow of dissenting and overseas information and use the Internet to spread pro-state propaganda. In one section, Wang lays out new plans to "strengthen [China's] supervision" of Internet content by curbing opportunities for anonymous discussion:

We are implementing ... a permission and examination and approval system to handle online information services involving ideological security and public interests. We are also establishing a robust series of management procedures ... to handle harmful information and prevent the infiltration of harmful information from overseas ... On major news websites and key commercial websites, we are implementing a system to require real-name identification of forum moderators and a function that successfully removes "anonymous comments" on news stories. We are also exploring an identity authentication system for users of online bulletin boards.

HRIC's revelation comes on the heels of a June announcement that Google will continue to operate its google.cn Internet search engine in mainland China, ending a four-month period during which the site simply redirected to the uncensored google.hk [search websites; JURIST report] after the company threatened in January to pull out of China entirely [JURIST report]. Earlier last month, the Chinese government defended [JURIST report] its Internet censorship laws in a report [materials] on Internet usage in the country. In February, the government announced new regulations [JURIST report] further restricting Internet use by requiring Chinese citizens to submit identity cards and meet with regulars before registering a website, prompting many to register sites overseas to avoid regulation.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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