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China to identify commentards with real‑name policy

Platforms must register identities before users can post

China's Internet administration has issued an edict that any platform that allows users to post comments must register their real-world identities first.

The South China Morning Post spotted this note (in Chinese*) from the Cyberspace Administration of China, which imposes the requirement that users post comments under their real names.

The regulation will apply from October 1, and the administration says its aim is to “promote the healthy and orderly development of the Internet community … to protect the legitimate rights and interests of citizens”. National security and the “public interest” also score mentions.

Unregulated forums, the administration complains, mean the proliferation of posts with content that's “pornographic, false advertising, bloody violence, insulting slander, disclosure of personal privacy and other illegal information”.

The instruction covers web sites, smartphone applications, interactive communications platforms, and “any other communication platform that features news or with the function to mobilise society”.

News sites get an extra burden: they'll have to moderate comments before they're published.

The regulation doesn't demand that users' real names will be published alongside posts, only that platform operators get real names at registration time (picturesquely described as the “backstage real name, front desk voluntary” principle).

Providers are also warned that video providers need to record danmu (comments pasted over the top of live video) in real time.

The SCMP notes that some platforms saw the writing on the wall: Zhihu (a Quora-like Q&A site) and Baidu started enforcing registration in June. ®

*Bootnote: The Register couldn't spot a matching post on the English-language version of the Cyber Administration site, because whether deliberately or by a misconfiguration it usually asks for a login, but doesn't explain how to obtain credentials.

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