Chinese internet company Sina launched a real name verification function to its user registration form as of January 1, 2012. The new function compares user-submitted data, such as name and national ID card number, and if a user's information does not match comparison records the user can only browse existing posts. In order to be able to post content, users must resubmit correct information. To date, 3 mlllion new users have submitted real name information, and single day registration volume continues to grow. For existing users, Sina will offer additional functionality and privileges to users that submit real name credentials, implement a user trust ratings system, and this week will launch a verified real name ID badge. Sohu previously launched a promotional campaign, offering 20 mln Sohu Video monthly subscription cards and RMB 1 mln worth of mobile phone recharge cards to users who submit real name data early. Online real estate site Soufun offered prizes, including free vacation housing in 13 popular tourist destination cities. Users who do not register by March 16 will lose their posting and reposting privileges.
Regarding user data security, a Sina spokesperson said that users will be notified by mobile phone or other channels if someone logs into their account from a different location. If any anomalies occur, users can lock their account from their mobile phone even if someone else is logged in. A spokesperson for Sohu said that Sohu does not store any user data after authenticating the user's identity.
What Happens as Google Uncensors Search in China?
Google has stopped censoring results on its Chinese search engine, but many underlying pages are still blocked. Meanwhile, some Chinese say Google risks a government shutdown of its service.
- "There are conflicting reports as to whether China is considering creating an internal Internet structure that is not governed by ICANN. Reports in the China People's Daily suggested that China would create top level domains using Chinese characters as addresses. A lot of the non-English world wants to extend addresses to their own alphabets, something with which ICANN has been moving glacially slow.
Reports are that China is working with second-level domains, rather than .cn, .com, and .net as suggested by other reports.
A report in the Toronto Star by Professor Michael Geist suggests that whether top or second level domains are involved, the prospects of China being used as a model by other countries has the potential to up-end U.S. control of top level domain servers. China is a little different from most countries in that the population of Internet users is large enough that the Chinese government could, indeed, make the split work for that country. Critics believe if China successfully splits from the Internet as it is currently governed, the government there would be able to censor content even more than is possible under current circumstances.
Stories on this from CIO Today, the Toronto Star, and Xinhua."
- A United States Congressional Committee has accused Google (and other internet companies) of a "sickening and eveil" collaboration with the Chinese government and of being complicit in the jailing and torture of dissidents. This stems from Google's agreement with the Chinese government to block various politically sensitive terms from their new China specific site, Google.cn. Read more here.
- The Electronic Frontier Foundation has called for internet companies to adopt a code of conduct when engaging with authoritarian regimes.
- While all the controversy dominates the media, Beijing News, a Beijing newspaper, indicates it may be academic as Google's new China specific site doies not have a license. Read more here.
Here are some other recent stories relating to content regulation in China:
- The Chinese government continues to prosecute people for subversion for online writings. For example, on Tuesday the AP reported that a Chinese journalist has been whose reports on rural poverty and unemployment riled local officials has been charged with subversion after posting essays on the internet.
- China is cracking down on spam and piracy.
- Much to the chagrin of the US government, various internet companies have agreed to China's censorship demands.
For a detailed study, see this report from the OpenNet Initiative: Internet Filtering in China in 2004-2005.
Of course, the Chinese government defends its right to regulate the internet in the way it does.
There are really two issues here. First, how successful has China's regulation been? And second, assuming the Chinese government's attempts at regulation have been relative successful, should a government be able to regulate what its citizens can access through the internet? So basically, the first is a practical or technical question - does it work? - while the second is the moral or philosophical question on the role of government and the value of free speech? Any thoughts or different perspectives? Who would defend what China is doing?
For a summary of the findings, click here.
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This website has some useful links and references: http://www.epiphanysolutions.co.uk/article-index/rights-and-laws-of-the-internet/