China Announces Tighter Internet Restrictions

We often take Internet freedom for granted in the United States, but the same cannot be said in China. The Chinese government announced Dec. 28 new rules which not only allow it to delete posts it determines are illegal, but also require Internet Service Providers to provide users’ information to law enforcement if they violate Chinese Internet rules. The government also made it harder for its Internet users to access the Web anonymously, adding new ways to enforce rules that require Internet users to identify themselves to ISPs, according to Reuters. According to the official Xinhua news agency, Chinese Internet users are now required to register with their real names when signing up with providers.

Service providers are required to instantly stop the transmission of illegal information once it is spotted and take relevant measures, including removing the information and saving records, before reporting to supervisory authorities,” the rules state.

Although China’s population has the highest Internet penetration rate in the world at 40 percent—538 million people—the nation is notorious for monitoring its citizens online activity and blocking content that might be embarrassing to the nation. But many Chinese have circumvented such rules by using proxy and other technology to allow them open access to the Web, even using social media to organize protests.

The Chinese government, however, has countered by employing censors to monitor Web traffic and social media posts. It has even banned certain foreign sites, such as the New York Times, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

When people exercise their rights, including the right to use the Internet, they must do so in accordance with the law and constitution, and not harm the legal rights of the state, society … or other citizens,” China’s deputy head of parliament’s legislative affairs committee Li Fei told a news conference.

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