With widespread online rumors claiming China will implement a blog name verification system, the Internet Society of China (ISC) has clarified that so far the Ministry of Information Industry has not officially made any such policies.
“However, a real name system will be an unavoidable choice if China wants to standardize and develop its blog industry,” said Huang Chengqing, ISC secretary general on Sunday.
An ISC official confirmed on Thursday that the society is working on a real name system for Chinese bloggers, proving netizens’ guesses and triggering controversy.
Huang said some reports on the Internet about the implementation of the real name system are not "very accurate."
The ISC, affiliated to the Ministry of Information Industry, was entrusted by the ministry to form a blog research panel to provide solutions for the development of China's blog industry.
"We suggest, in a recent report submitted to the ministry, that a real name system be implemented in China's blog industry," Huang said.
Under such a system, a blogger would need to register his real name, but still be able to write under a pseudonym. However, that a lot of preparatory work must be done before the name verification system officially runs indicated the ISC report.
"For example, a complete personal data protection system should be established in advance," Huang said, adding that the system will not begin before the huge netizen community is consulted
Different opinions are seen on the Internet both for and against the initiative
A netizen named Xiaosha said the real name system may weaken liberty of speech, blogger flexibility and even threaten their privacy.
However, another netizen called Tinghai believed that the rights infringement in China's blogs will never be curbed unless a name verification system is shaped and starts running.
Some bloggers use the Internet to disseminate irresponsible information, causing negative social influences.
In August, 2006, associate professor Chen Tangfa from Nanjing University won his lawsuit against a blog company.
Chen accused the company of having failed to properly deal with some insulting comments made about him, which were spread on the Internet by an anonymous blogger.
Huang said the foundation of the name verification system is an equilibrium between freedom and responsibility. "There exists no freedom without any abstention, and to limit also benefits the further development of this industry."
According to ISC's survey, about half of Chinese netizens support the real name system. Another survey showed that half of the bloggers opened their blogs to "share with others their own thoughts and resources," while others used them to store materials and data, communicate, and keep up with the latest information.
China currently has about 17.5 million bloggers according to a recent ISC report.
(Xinhua News Agency, October 23, 2006)