China to back down from "real name" blog rules

BEIJING Tue May 22, 2007 7:50pm BST

1 of 2. People use computers at an Internet cafe in Suining, southwest China's Sichuan province April 25, 2007. China is to back down from a plan to require bloggers to use their real names when they register Web logs, following an outcry over the proposal from the Internet industry, official media reported on Tuesday.

Credit: Reuters/Stringer

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BEIJING (Reuters) - China is to back down from a plan to require bloggers to use their real names when they register Web logs, following an outcry over the proposal from the Internet industry, official media reported on Tuesday.

Instead, the government would promote a 'self-discipline code' that would encourage, but not mandate, bloggers to register under their own names, the report said, citing draft guidelines published by the Internet Society of China.

"The ISC, with the backing of the Ministry of Information Industry, is trying to rally industry players to sign up to the self-discipline code for the promotion of a less rigorous real-name system," state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

China, the world's second-largest Web market with some 140 million Internet users, has already imposed some controls.

The 'real-name' blog proposal was seen as another attempt to regulate free-wheeling Web content, but it triggered protests from the Internet industry and users, Xinhua said.

Some government departments had advocated the use of real names as a way to stop slander, pornography and the spread of what the ruling Communist Party sees as "harmful information."

China already routinely blocks Web sites for political content that runs counter to the government's views, and restricts participation in some on-line discussion groups.

It also imposes controls on Internet chatter about politically sensitive subjects, although postings on the country's more than 20 million blogs often go far beyond what is permissible in traditional state-run media.

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