China is getting tougher on the Internet. New rules issued by the Chinese Government today require Internet users to provide their real names to service providers.
At the same time Internet companies are given greater responsibility for deleting forbidden postings and reporting them to the authorities.
Government censors have sharply stepped up restrictions on China’s international Internet traffic in recent weeks, said the New York Times.
"The restrictions are making it harder for businesses to protect commercial secrets and for individuals to view overseas Web sites that the Chinese Communist Party deems politically sensitive," the Times reported.
Internet users in China have recently exposed a series of sexual and financial scandals that have led to the resignations or dismissals of at least 10 local officials.
International news media have also published reports on the accumulation of wealth by the family members of China’s leaders. Web sites carrying such reports, including Bloomberg and the The New York Times itself , have been blocked, while Internet comments about them have been swiftly deleted.
The new regulations allow Internet users to continue to use pseudonyms for online postings - but only if they first provide their real names to service providers.
This that could "chill some of the vibrant discourse on the country’s Twitter-like microblogs," said the Times.
From time to time the Chinese authorities have detained and even jailed Internet users for politically sensitive comments, such as calls for a multiparty democracy or accusations of impropriety by local officials.
Li Fei, a deputy director of the committee’s legislative affairs panel, at a news conference in Beijing, denied that the government was seeking to prevent the exposure of corruption.
But he said. “When citizens exercise their rights, including through use of the Internet, they should stay within the bounds of the Constitution and the laws, and must not harm the legitimate rights and interests of the state, society, the collective or of other citizens.”
A spokesman for the National People’s Congress said that 145 members of the committee voted in favor of the new rules, with 5 abstaining and 1 voting against them.