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China 23 August 2007

Government gets blog service providers to sign "self-discipline" pact to end anonymous blogging

28.08.07 : Yahoo! and MSN comment on “self-disciplinary pledge”

Reporters Without Borders notes that both Yahoo! and MSN, which signed China’s “self-disciplinary pledge” for blog service providers, have said they will not implement one of its clauses, registration of bloggers under their real names.

A Yahoo! spokesman told Reporters Without Borders most of the pledge concerned standard online safety measures. “We believe the real-name registration aspect of the pledge presents potential risks to free expression and privacy,” the spokesman said. “We expressed our strong concerns to Yahoo! China... [and] we understand they do not currently plan to implement real-name registration for bloggers.”

In a written statement, MSN has said: “Such self-regulatory codes are an effective means of helping to protect our customers from cybercrimes and other threats to online security and privacy ... While the self-regulatory code does makes some recommendations that Microsoft does not support, it should be emphasized that these are indeed recommendations only ... In particular, we do not plan to implement real-name registration for blogging in our Windows Live Spaces service in China.”


23.08.07 : Government gets blog service providers to sign "self-discipline" pact to end anonymous blogging

Reporters Without Borders condemns the “self-discipline pact” signed by at least 20 leading blog service providers in China including Yahoo.cn! and MSN.cn. Unveiled yesterday by the Internet Society of China (ISC), an offshoot of the information industry ministry, the pact stops short the previous project of making it obligatory for bloggers to register, but it can be used to force service providers to censor content and identify bloggers.

“The Chinese government has yet again forced Internet sector companies to cooperate on sensitive issues - in this case, blogger registration and blog content,” the press freedom organisation said. “As they already did with website hosting services, the authorities have given themselves the means to identify those posting ‘subversive’ content by imposing a self-discipline pact.”

Reporters Without Borders added: “This decision will have grave consequences for the Chinese blogosphere and marks the end of anonymous blogging. A new wave of censorship and repression seems imminent, above all in the run-up to the Communist Party of China’s next congress.”

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Under the new pact, blog service providers are “encouraged” to register users under their real names and contact information before letting them post blogs. More seriously, they will be required to keep this information, which will allow the authorities to identify them. These companies have already in the past provided the police with information about their clients, resulting in arrests.

The pact says “blog providers should monitor and manage comments ... and delete illegal and bad information in a timely manner.” Articles 11 and 12 urge them to equip themselves with a secure management system that allows them to keep bloggers’ details, including their real name, address, contact number and email address.

ISC secretary-general Huang Chengqing was clear yesterday when he said: “Blog service providers who allow the use of pseudonyms may be more attractive to bloggers, but they will be punished by the government if they fail to screen illegal information.”

The companies are also urged to adopt “sincere self-discipline and, of their own initiative, to protect the interests of the State and Party.”

These are some of the blog service providers who have agreed to sign the pact - Msn.cn, Renmin Wang, Xinlang, Sohu, Wangyi, Tom, Qianlong Wang, Hexun Wang, Boke Tianxia, Tianji Wang, Yahoo.cn, Huasheng Zaixian, Bolianshe and Tengxun.




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