Thursday, January 19, 2012

Name-Verification Advancement

BBC News has reported that China is continuing to extend control of the internet over netizens, requiring more users to register for websites using their real names and establishing their identity on the internet.

For most websites, such as micro-blogging websites like Twitter or most blogs, netizens around the world can create usernames and register on the websites with little more than an e-mail address to verify registration. Once completed, netziens are not required to verify their real identity or names.

However, in some areas in China, the government is requiring users to register using name-verification to prove their identity, thus eliminating any thread of anonymity that might be granted to netizens on the these websites. Real name-verification will allow websites, and thus the Chinese government, to discover the identity of the author of any post on these websites.

The Chinese government is initiating the spread of these changes to curb "irrational voices, negative public opinion and harmful information" on Chinese microblog websites. The government says that many hide behind anonymity on these microblogging websites and use that ability to cause dissent and spread malicious rumors. The speed of information not controlled by official media on these sites worries officials, who are banking on the success of these pilot name-verification programs in major cities across China.

This brings up many questions - if you deem yourself a citizen of the Internet, are you then required to establish identity? Is anonymity on the internet a thing of the past? And what is the Chinese Communist Party's thought process for initiating these online reforms?

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