Chinese Ministry Releases Plan to Boost Internet Censorship

The National Internet Information Office, a Chinese office tied to both the legislative State Council and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, posted the proposed changes to its Internet law.

The general gist of the changes is to further eliminate anonymity on the Web, and expand control over the companies that host China’s teeming microblog—Twitter-like services that feature unprecedented levels of political and social debate.

The document, presented as an update to the “Methods for Governance of Internet Information Services”, would include the companies running online forums, blogs and microblogs in the category of Internet service providers. As a result, they would be subject to far more intense political regulation.

All Internet service providers would have to ensure users are registered with their real identities. Forum and blog users in China are not now required to register with their real names, which has helped spark a sense of freedom to engage in some political debate.

The changes mirror those taken last December, when Party authorities made microblog operators ensure that users were registered with their real identities. Major microblog operator Sina has said strict enforcement of the requirement is difficult, but took steps last month to introduce new rules that could ban users for posting about sensitive political topics. In late March it banned commenting for three days amid a high-level political crisis.

The law revisions would also require Internet companies to keep logs for 12 months, and to provide technical assistance to the police and national security agencies—which have been alleged to detain and torture dissidents based solely on online activity.

The draft law change is open for public comment until July 6.
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