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China may require real name registration for internet access

Published on Dec 25, 2012 3:14 PM
Women use portable devices to browse the Internet in a restaurant in Haikou, south China's Hainan province on December 21, 2012. Chinese authorities who have long sought to limit access to information have reinforced the so-called Great Firewall of China, Internet firms say, frustrating businesses and raising activist concerns. -- PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING (REUTERS) - China may require internet users to register with their real names when signing up to network providers, state media said on Tuesday, extending a policy already in force with microblogs in a bid to curb what officials call rumours and vulgarity.

A law being discussed this week would mean people would have to present their government-issued identity cards when signing contracts for fixed line and mobile internet access, state-run newspapers said.

"The law should escort the development of the internet to protect people's interest," Communist Party mouthpiece the People's Daily said in a front-page commentary, echoing similar calls carried in state media over the past week. "Only that way can our internet be healthier, more cultured and safer."

Many users say the restrictions are clearly aimed at further muzzling the often scathing, raucous, and perhaps most significantly, anonymous online chatter in a country where the Internet offers a rare opportunity for open debate.

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