Saturday, September 5, 2009

The Non-Anonymous Internet

The powers that be in China are not appreciating that anonymity that the internet allows.

From The New York Times:

Image from

BEIJING — News Web sites in China, complying with secret government orders, are requiring that new users log on under their true identities to post comments, a shift in policy that the country’s Internet users and media have fiercely opposed in the past.

Until recently, users could weigh in on news items on many of the affected sites more anonymously, often without registering at all, though the sites were obligated to screen all posts, and the posts could still be traced via Internet protocol addresses.

But in early August, without notification of a change, news portals like Sina, Netease, Sohu and scores of other sites began asking unregistered users to sign in under their real names and identification numbers, said top editors at two of the major portals affected. A Sina staff member also confirmed the change.

The editors said the sites were putting into effect a confidential directive issued in late July by the State Council Information Office, one of the main government bodies responsible for supervising the Internet in China.

The new step is not foolproof, the editors acknowledged. It was possible for a reporter to register successfully on several major sites under falsified names and ID and cellphone numbers.

But the requirement adds a critical new layer of surveillance to mainstream sites in China, which were already heavily policed. Further regulations of the same nature also appeared to be in the pipeline.

Read On
I've been too forgiving in the past towards China's locking down of the internet. China has no interest in keeping its internet open and a genuine sharing of information. This can be evidenced the blocking of YouTube, Twitter, Blogspot, and a number of other sites as well as this move. It's really sad China is locking things down considering how many benefits the internet has already given the country.

Now that I've left China, I'm really appreciating the freedom of expression we have in America. America has its own set of issues across the board, but at least I can go to websites that I want to and don't have to be self-regulating when speaking about politics (in China, you've always got to be aware of avoiding "the 3 T's.")

Sure, religion and politics are things that are probably better not discussed in America. But at least there's no chance of becoming an enemy of the state for questioning authority or speaking one's mind about such topics.


Anonymous said...

If there is one major blunder the CCP is making in their attempts to control the population, it is the lockdown of open communication via the web. Eventually people are gonna resent it to a point where they start to question the motivations for such stringent controls.

China will never be a world leader until its people are allowed these modern freedoms. It wreaks of cowardice.

Brother Bastardfish said...

But at least there's no chance of becoming an enemy of the state

Depends who's authority you're questioning. Questioning Republican authority is traitorous, whereas questioning Democractic authority is just sensible centrism.

Mark said...

It's tough to argue the censorship, there are internet sites that you can't get to in the US that we can reach in China. Yes, they block more, at least in our mind, but most of that is visible to us laowais and some Chinese, the majority don't notice blockage as there are similar sites in Chinese that they visit. While we might miss New York Times, the Chinese in the States might miss a Muslim site that we block. A free internet is something we hope for but is hard to fully comprehend, as we often don't realize what is blocked because we don't look for it...