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Bloggers to Give Real Names
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It's been confirmed by officials of the Internet Society of China (ISC) that the country is investigating the adoption of a real name system in parts of the Internet, reported the Shanghai-based Oriental Morning Post yesterday.

Hu Qiheng, ISC board chairman, was reported to have said on Tuesday at 'Info China 2006' in Beijing that efforts were being made to strike a balance between individual privacy and public interests.

"The past understanding of privacy is too absolute," he said. "Not only China but also the whole world should realize the necessity of balancing individual privacy and public and national interests."

A new system is likely to be adopted requiring Chinese netizens to submit information such as their real names and ID card numbers when they register a blog or Bulletin Board Service account.

Netizens will be able to continue choosing their own online name and as long as they don't violate laws their personal information would remain private and safe. The first area for real name application will be blogs which are a popular form of Internet-based diary. However, blogs have been used by some to infringe upon the privacy and rights of others.

For example an infamous TV host had thousands of netizens visit her blog because she wrote an article about a well-known TV anchor's marriage history. It included some allegedly false information.

As a blogger's real name is unknown it's very difficult to safeguard privacy and rights.

The ISC, affiliated to the Ministry of Information Industry, was entrusted to form a blog research panel to provide solutions for the development of China's blog industry. The real name system is said to be able to protect law-abiding netizens' privacy.

Yang Junzuo, secretary-general of ISC's self-discipline working commission, was quoted by Beijing-based China Times a month ago saying the real name system was the solution. "Free speech on the Internet does not include talking nonsense and not taking responsibility. Bad symptoms will be curbed," he was quoted as saying.

However, not many netizens support the system. An online poll at sohu.com yesterday showed that only one quarter of those surveyed agreed that the system would crack down on online crimes while not interfering with Internet use.

More than 70 percent of people were against it. They believed it was "absurd" to enforce a real name system because of a minority of people who committed online crimes.

Xinhua News Agency reported that Hu stressed at the meeting that the ISC would adopt multiple ways to improve the Internet environment. Hu was quoted as saying that the direct purpose of improving the Internet environment was to enable the young generation to grow up in an Internet-friendly environment like those in developed countries.

(China Daily November 30, 2006)

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