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Real Name Recommended for Blogs
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With rumours spreading online that bloggers will be required to use their real names, the Internet Society of China (ISC) has clarified that so far the Ministry of Information Industry has not made any policies on the matter.

However, a real name system will become unavoidable if China wants to standardize and develop the blogging industry, Huang Chengqing, ISC secretary-general, said on Sunday.

An official with the ISC confirmed on Thursday that the society is working on a real name system for Chinese bloggers, sparking debate throughout the nation's online communities.

Huang said some Internet reports about the implementation of the real name system had not been "very accurate."

The ISC, affiliated to the Ministry of Information Industry, has been directed to form a blog research panel to provide solutions for the development of the blogging industry.

"We suggest, in a recent report submitted to the ministry, that a real name system be implemented for China's blogging industry," said Huang.

Under such a system, netizens would have to register with their real names to open a blog, but would still be able to write under a pseudonym, according to Huang.

Yet the panel also pointed out in their report that a lot of preparatory work must be done before a real name system could go into action.

"For example, a complete personal data protection system should be established in advance," Huang said, adding that the system would not be introduced before netizens had had their say on it.

Online opinion of the proposed system is divided.

Some say the real name system could water down freedom of speech and even threaten bloggers' privacy. Meanwhile, another opinion is that a real name system could help tackle online con artists, pornography and IPO infringements.

Other bloggers have been accused of disseminating false information via the Internet, damaging reputations and society as a whole.

In August, 2006, associate professor Chen Tangfa from Nanjing University won a lawsuit against a blog company.

The company was found guilty of failing to properly deal with insulting online comments about him, which had been spread by an anonymous blogger.

Huang said the real name system was an equilibrium between freedom and responsibility. "There can be no freedom without self control, and limiting people to using their own names will also benefit the further development of the industry."

He said the system the ISC recommended was a background real name system, which required bloggers to provide their real names and other real information when applying for a blog, but allowed them to use pseudonyms in their blog articles.

According to an ISC survey, about half of a China's netizens support the real name system.

(Xinhua News Agency October 24, 2006)

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