December 28, 2012 : MORE INTERNET INTERFERENCE IN CHINA
New leadership tightens its grip on internet information and opinions
China, already notorious for its attempts to censor the internet, has moved to further tighten its control of the medium with new laws which attack the freedom of speech and information through social networking, message boards and blogs, which can be scathing about government and political issues.
Sky News reports that service providers are required to hand over provocative or illegal information to the authorities as the new political leadership of the country takes up the reins, apparently intent on continuing to muzzle critical views. Measures include having unsuitable material deleted.
The regulations, announced by the official Xinhua news agency, require internet users to register with their real names when signing up with network providers, formalising a practice that is already widespread in China as companies like Sina Corp monitor users.
Earlier this year, the government began forcing users of Sina's widely used Weibo microblogging platform to register their real names.
Draconian requirements are placed on service providers with clauses such as: "Service providers are required to instantly stop the transmission of illegal information once it is spotted and take relevant measures, including removing the information and saving records, before reporting to supervisory authorities."
Sky News reports that the restrictions follow a series of corruption scandals amongst lower-level state officials that have been exposed by internet users.
However, Li Fei, deputy head of parliament's legislative affairs committee, told a news conference the rules did not mean people needed to worry about being unable to report corruption online.
But he warned: "When people exercise their rights, including the right to use the internet, they must do so in accordance with the law and constitution, and not harm the legal rights of the state, society … or other citizens."
Chinese internet users already face cope extensive censorship measures, especially over politically sensitive topics like human rights and elite politics, and popular foreign sites Facebook, Twitter and Google-owned YouTube are blocked.