Time to get 'real' on China's Internet

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China has been actively promoting a real-name registration system for Internet and cell phone users to better manage Internet information and services, said Wang Chen, minister of the State Council Information Office.

Earlier efforts to adopt a real-name registration system for website moderators at major news portals and big commercial sites, as well as a ban on "anonymous" comments following news stories, have achieved substantial results, Wang told the country's top legislature last Thursday.

"We're also exploring an identity authentication system for users of online bulletin board systems," he said.

This is the first time the central government has confirmed a push for an online real-name registration system and its possible further expansion.

People now have to log onto major websites with a user name to post comments, while before they could comment anonymously.

Wang said China has established an initial system to ensure the safety of online information, but the rapid development of the Internet in China has also brought new problems and challenges.

He said authorities would start drafting an Internet management law as soon as possible, and discuss the possibility of a law on information security.

In addition, Wang said the country would intensify a crackdown on online crimes and anyone using the Internet to spread pornography, gamble or commit fraud would be severely punished.

According to Wang, more than 5,510 suspects were seized in the crackdown last year.

He said China would also strengthen monitoring on "harmful information" on the Internet, in a bid to block harmful overseas information from spreading in the country via the Internet and prevent "hostile overseas forces from infiltrating through the Internet."

Latest official figures show the population of netizens in China has hit 404 million. By the end of last year, 99 percent of China's towns and 92 percent of its villages had access to the Internet.

The information industry now contributes to about 10 percent of the country's GDP, up from less than one percent 16 years ago.

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