Users of microblogs in Beijing, China, are now required to register their accounts with their real names and will need to do so within three months or they will face legal actions, says the Chinese government.
In a document, titled "Beijing City's rules for the development and management of microblogs", republished by local news wire Xinhua, the Beijing government announced that with immediate effect, any organization or individual that registers for a microblog account or "creates, copies, disseminates or broadcasts" microblog content will need to do it under their real identity. Users are not allowed to register under pseudo names or use the identity of other residents, commercial entities to register for an account, the document noted.
According to the regulations, Web sites that have microblogging services will need to register with the Chinese capital's Internet Information Management Office within three months. They will also need to comply with the stipulated regulations and ensure existing users are registered under their real identities.
In a Xinhua report, a spokesperson from the Internet Information Management Office said while users need to register with their real identities, they are free to post using the username of their microblog accounts.
To protect microblog users, the government added that microblogging sites will need to operate a complete data protection system to protect users' information and microblog messages. The Web sites are also restricted from leaking users' information and are not allowed to create fake user accounts, said the Xinhua report.
Twitter is banned in China, and Chinese Internet users use homegrown microblogging sites such as Sina Weibo or Tencent Weibo.
A report from Reuters published last month noted that China had 300 million registered microblog users. In comparison, Twitter's global user base passed the 300 million mark in May this year, according to Mediabistro.com report.
In 2010, the Chinese government announced a similar initiative in which users are required to register their real names to sign up for new prepaid mobile subscription.