China enforces real-name registration to regulate online comments

Only those who have their real name and identification information registered will be able to comment on Chinese internet platforms from October.

China is further tightening control of the internet with a new rule requiring users to register their real names and other personal information before they can post comments online.

The rule, detailed by the Cyberspace Administration of China on its website on Friday, requires website operators to protect personal information, strengthen content reviews, conduct real-time information checks, and formulate plans to deal with emergencies. It will be officially enforced on October 1.

It also prohibits service providers of online forums in China from seeking illegitimate interests through publishing, forwarding, or deleting information on the platforms.

Illegal content has been found on certain Chinese internet platforms -- including pornography, false advertising, violence and slander, and the invasion of personal information -- that disrupts the information dissemination order on the internet and hurts public interests, said the guideline. It added that it is the majority of internet users who have called for the regulation of online community services.

China has stepped up regulating the internet since the country's first ever cybersecurity law officially took effect on June 1.

Earlier this month, the Cyberspace Administration announced the launch of an investigation into three popular Chinese social media platforms -- WeChat, Baidu Tieba, and Sina Weibo -- claiming that some information circulating on these platforms disrupts social order and violates laws.

Last month, Apple removed VPN apps from its China app store to comply with a government ban. China is also requiring its big three phone carriers to block access to VPNs by February 2018 in a campaign aimed at "cleaning and standardizing" access to the internet.

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