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China makes online pseudonyms illegal

Alias has to be registered under real name.

By Raif Karerat

WASHINGTON, DC: In a move that even further curtails freedom of expression, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) is introducing new regulations forcing China’s  citizens to use their real names when registering with internet-based services such as blogs, social networks, and chat services.

The new rules dictate that users can continue to employ a personalized pseudonym as long as they register the alias under their real name. Moving forward, it will also be illegal to impersonate other people, organizations, and government bodies.

The 10-clause long decree, which was published on February 4, also ruled that avatars and account IDs should “not include information that violated the Constitution or the country’s laws; subverts state power; undermines national security and sovereignty; or is deemed rumor mongering,” according to Xinhua, Beijing’s official state press agency.

“Malicious content includes the promotion of cults and the dissemination of pornography or extremism; and insulting or defamation of others, among others, according to the regulation,” read the report.

The new regulations will take effect on March 1, with the CAC ready to check all accounts registered on blogs, microblogs, online forums, comment sections, instant messaging services, and other online services.

The Chinese government has long taken an authoritarian stance in regards to online activity within its national borders. It was just over a month ago that Chinese authorities purportedly blocked access to Google’s Gmail within the country for several days, disrupting communication for millions. Naturally, Beijing vehemently denied the allegations.

Furthermore, last week China implemented crackdowns that reinforced its digital censorship protocols, colloquially known as the Great Firewall, even further, making the dissemination of information and opinions even more difficult. Supposedly the long-term goal of the “People’s Republic” is to establish its own parallel online-environment that it can more easily control and manipulate.



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