China to bring in laws that will force internet users to use their real name

28 Aug 2017

Image: Mygate/Shutterstock

China’s tightening internet laws are being squeezed even further as it announces that people will now need to use their real names online.

China has not shied away from telling its people that their internet experience will not be the same come 2018, and now it has revealed that some changes will be enacted this year.

According to Quartz, China’s internet regulator has issued a list of rules that will come into effect in October, regarding who can post what online.

The most noticeable stipulation is one that requires all internet users to ditch any pseudonyms and use only their real names when posting things online.

This won’t come as a shock to anyone in the state that is known for its restrictive policies, with many of the country’s most popular apps – such as Weibo and WeChat – already requiring real names during registration.

Rather, this new rule is aimed at those posting comments on message forums outside of the influence of major companies, where criticism of the government can appear.

The announcement released by the regulator states: “For users who have not given identifying information, platforms for and providers of online communities may not allow posting of any kind.” On these platforms, “no content may appear that is prohibited by national regulations”.

Among nine new rules

Asian news magazine The Diplomat managed to translate what else constitutes an offence when posting online in China, showing that the ruling head of state, Xi Jinping, is determined to quash any anti-government sentiment.

Among the nine banned types of posts are any that oppose the principles of China’s constitution, damage national honour and spread rumours that disrupt the social order.

One rule also prevents the posting of “obscenity, pornography, violence, terror or abetting the crime”.

Legally, China’s internet service providers will be forced to record the data of users and report any infringements to the country’s regulator.

These new rules come after the regulator revealed that VPNs, which allow people in China to access blocked sites such as YouTube, will be completely illegal by February 2018.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic