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Saturday, December 02, 2006

China's Real Name System for Bloggers

According to The Star (1 December 2006), Pg W53 - China is looking into adopting a real-name system, where people will be required to submit their real name and IC number when they register for services like "blogs or BBS account".

Netizens will be able to continue choosing their own online name, and as long as they do not violate laws their personal information will remain private and safe.

The first area for a real name application will be blogs, a popular form of Internet-based diary.

The reason?

Blogs have been used by some people to infringe upon other people's privacy and rights. For example, an infamous TV host had thousands of netizens visit her blog just because she wrote an article about a well-known TV anchor's marriage history, which included some allegedly false information.

As a blogger's real name is unknown, it is very difficult to safeguard privacy and rights.

A blog research panel, under the Ministry of Information Industry, will "provide solutions for the development of China's blog industry." Yang Junzuo, secretary-general of the ISC's self-discipline working commission, was quoted by Beijing-based China Times a month ago as saying the real name system is the solution.

As far as I can reason, the argument by the Chinese government does not hold water, as the example given does not look like a common occurrence. Under the assumption that such cases are relatively few, information forensics personnel can handle the cases without the need of implementing such a large scale operation of "registering" all the bloggers.

The guise of "protecting privacy and rights" is somewhat ironical, as the Chinese government is not known for its record for that, as evident from this open letter to appeal for the release of 54 Chinese citizens for "expressing and exchanging opinions over the Internet". Check also this article on Freedom of Expression, Speech and the Press in the context of China. These are just the top two articles when I google "freedom of speech in china". Feel free to browse through for more.

The real name system is going to have China's bloggers trussed up, worse than ever before. If the excuse is to protect privacy and rights, putting all the names into one database accessible to the government is the worst violation of privacy of all.


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    By Blogger Azer Mantessa, at 9:09 PM  

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