China / Society

Internet ID policy triggers online discussion

(Xinhua) Updated: 2013-01-04 00:35

BEIJING - A policy that requires users to use their real names when registering for Internet access has triggered heated discussion, with some for and some against it.

On December 28, China's top legislature passed rules on protecting online information, with a provision requiring Internet users to use their real names to identify themselves to service providers, including Internet or telecommunications operators.

While some netizens say because of this policy, they will be cautious in airing views, others say such worry is unnecessary.

"Zhang Lifan," a netizens on popular Internet portal, wrote that the regulation will affect online communication and reduce netizens' desire to participate in political discussions.

Yin Yungong, director of the Institute of Journalism and Communication at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the policy will help to dispel malicious rumors at their source.

"The policy will ensure online information spreads in an orderly and safe way," said Yin.

He said that netizens will get used to it gradually.

Actually, many Chinese service providers have already set real-name registration requirements. China Telecom, China Mobile and China Unicom, China's three biggest telecom companies, have required individuals and enterprises to provide their real names when subscribing to data transmission services since September 2010.

Sina Weibo, a popular microblogging site that has been used by netizens to blow the whistle on corrupt officials, has required users to register with their real names since earlier this year.

Huzhichenfeibeijixing, a Sina Weibo user, said whistleblowers using their real names will give their claims more weight.

While netizens have various opinions on the impact of the policy, they are unanimous in calling for strict protection of online ID information.

"I doubt the government's ability to ensure the security of our information," wrote a Sina Weibo user with the screenname "yingluobiezhi," adding that he fears his personal information could end up being disclosed.

A survey published by the China Center for Information Industry Development in May 2012 showed that more than 60 percent of respondents said they had suffered personal information theft.

Internet users who have accounts on popular commercial or social networking sites are at the greatest risk of having their information stolen, according to Feng Qiang, an employee of a commercial website, adding that netizens' personal information is managed by the websites' operators.

Operators should protect their users' privacy and public security departments should play a supervisory role, Feng said.

A commentary posted on Wednesday said some netizens have misread the intentions of the new rules, which aim to strengthen protection of citizens' online information and contain many provisions in this respect.

It said real-name registration has been the order of the day, as most of China's 513 million netizens have done online shopping. As some netizens fear the so-called compulsory real-name registration, they are probably unaware that they have already registered their real identities online.

"Therefore, it's necessary to make rules to protect netizens' online information," said the comment, urging netizens not to misinterpret the intention of the legislators and blindly echo ungrounded criticisms of the rules.

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