We all know China was always a bit stricter than the rest. But now its restriction on Internet freedom is getting even more intense. One can say that China’s real-name registration law hits a new level. Announced last Friday, the country’s top Internet censor has a new set of regulations. Those are in place for eliminating posts by anonymous users on Internet forums and other platforms. The Cyberspace Administration of China starting October 1st will enforce the rule.
Now, when the rule comes to life, all of the responsibility will be on Internet companies and service providers. They will be accountable for requesting and verifying real names from users when they register. And if an illegal content is present, they will have to immediately report it to the authorities. Tech firms like Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent are under more pressure to serve as the government’s gatekeepers. The reason behind that is that China prepares for the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party this fall. It is expected to put new people in a couple of key leadership positions.
Moving on, a new cyber security law went into effect at the beginning of June. It requires tech companies to collect important data on servers within China. If you think about it, it has the mission of protecting sensitive information. However, on the other hand, it can also make it way simpler for the government to track and persecute Internet users.
Real-name registration law
The CAC also specified what content is forbidden from being published online. It is citing a list from a 2000 bill regulating Internet information services in China. And the list is very broad:
Article 15 of the Measures for the Administration of Internet Information Services stipulates that Internet information service providers shall not make, reproduce, publish or disseminate information containing the following: (1) opposing the basic principles as defined in the Constitution; (2) endangering national security (3) to damage national honor and interests; (4) to incite national hatred, ethnic discrimination and undermine national unity; (v) to undermine national religious policies and to promote cults and (6) spreading rumors, disrupting social order and destroying social stability; (7) spreading pornography, pornography, gambling, violence, murder, terror or abetting a crime; (8) insulting or slandering others and infringing upon others (9) Any other content that is prohibited by laws and administrative regulations.
Apparently, a strict registration law was present for years now. We know, that China has issued different rules for online real-name registration before. And the CAC’s new regulations are hinting that the government is becoming progressively tough about censorship. Moreover, using VPNs to access blocked sites, let’s say Facebook and Twitter, was comparatively easy until earlier this year: the government began a crackdown. And many believe that this is much more serious than government’s previous attempts to enforce the ban.
According to The Diplomat, China is taking a multi-split approach as it doubles down on censorship. Furthermore, it is putting more pressure on international publishers as well.