IDG News Service reports on another crackdown on Internet freedom by China. In January, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made a speech calling for global Internet freedom, linking it with other basic freedoms (worship, assembly, expression). Last year, the New York Times reported that the Chinese government secretly ordered news Web sites to require individuals to use their real names and identities when commenting on the sites. In 2008, Xinhua News Agency (which is controlled by the Chinese government) reported that China started photographing and identifying users of Beijing’s Internet cafes.
China has been seeking to require censorship software (called Green Dam-Youth Escort) be preinstalled on computers sold in the country. But, the software was plagued both by technical problems and bad publicity from privacy and civil liberties restrictions. China decided to postpone the mandatory preinstallation, but some computer makers are forging ahead anyway.
Now, IDG reports:
Web site owners in China will have to start submitting personal photos to register their sites with the government under new trial regulations, China’s latest move in an Internet clampdown focused on porn.
The regulations, issued by China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, are part of an ongoing effort by the ministry to create records for all Web sites in the country. They come amid a wide-ranging campaign against online porn in which China has also shut down thousands of Web sites and suspended registration of new Internet domain names by individuals. The campaign has even had an effect outside of China, where companies that sell domain names have been blocked from offering domains that end with the .cn country code.
The new regulations, dated Feb. 8 but only posted on the Web sites of certain provincial telecom regulators starting Monday, require Internet service providers that help people register a Web site with authorities to meet the applicant in person and collect a personal photo. Applicants must also submit other information and a description of their site’s content, including anything that needs “advance or special approval.” […]
China uses multiple means to control what people in the country can see on the Internet. Web sites such as Facebook and YouTube are blocked outright, and many other sites are expected to censor themselves. Companies that offer online blogging or similar services can be punished if they fail to erase sensitive content posted by users.
Authorities are also researching a “real-name system” for the Internet, according to Li Yizhong, the head of China’s IT ministry. The term was an apparent reference to long-discussed plans to require Internet users to register their real identities before using public online services such as message boards, though Li also said the system was being researched for mobile phones.