No more hiding online; Chinese users must register under real names

Freedom of speech and online privacy may soon be forgotten in China, as the government seeks methods to tighten control over content Chinese users share over the internet. The Cyberspace Administration of China announced new regulations for online comments, effective October 1, writes the South China Morning Post.

On grounds that Chinese online space has been allegedly flooded with fake news, rumors, illegal information and offensive language, users from now on must register with their real names, and internet service providers will have to check identities for accuracy.

“For users who have not given identifying information, platforms for and providers of online communities may not allow posting of any kind,” reads the announcement (approximate translation from Chinese). “No content may appear that is prohibited by national regulations.”

The measure applies to all types of content and communication enablers, including news and online comments, and smartphone apps and “any other communication platform that features news or with the function to mobilize society.”

Besides verifying identity, internet providers will have to regularly curate content prior publication and real-time posts on videos, and report any forbidden topics to supervisors.

Forbidden topics, as translated by The Diplomat:

  1. Opposing the principles of the constitution of China.
  2. Endangering national security, revealing state secrets, subverting state power, and undermining national reunification.
  3. Damaging national honor and interests.
  4. Inciting national hatred, ethnic discrimination, and undermining national unity.
  5. Undermining the state’s policies on religion or promoting cults and feudal superstitions.
  6. Spreading rumors or disrupting social order.
  7. Spreading obscenity, pornography, violence, or terror, or abetting a crime.
  8. Insulting or slandering others and infringing upon the lawful rights and interests of others.
  9. Violating any other laws and regulations.

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