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Censorship The Internet Your Rights Online

New Chinese Rule Requires Real Names Online 193

Posted by samzenpus
from the anonymous-howard dept.
crimeandpunishment writes "According to a human rights group, a leading Chinese Internet regulator is calling for new rules requiring people to use their real names online and when buying mobile phones. New York-based 'Human Rights in China' says it has obtained the complete text of a speech Wang Chen, director of the State Council Information Office, made in April, and they quote him as saying 'We will make the Internet real name system a reality as soon as possible.'"
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New Chinese Rule Requires Real Names Online

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  • by SquarePixel (1851068) on Wednesday July 14, 2010 @05:54PM (#32907640)

    new rules requiring people to use their real names -- when buying mobile phones

    Just like Chinese, this is required by Apple too. They say it's so that you cannot buy multiple phones, but you still are required to give them your real name when you want to buy a phone. You are only allowed to buy a device with a credit card and they will record your name and phone IMEI.

    The trend in the US seems to be going strongly towards using real names too. Theres Facebook and there just was that Blizzard Forum incident. So it's not really nothing new, but it is just an another "china and communism is bad"-story when pretty much the same is done in the US.

    • And it's not just phones there too... a WiFi-only iPad falls under the same policy.

      • by Amarantine (1100187) on Thursday July 15, 2010 @05:05AM (#32911104)
        Yes, to prevent the guy in front of you from buying all the iPads and reselling them on eBay for 200%. If Apple didn't do this, you'd be complaining that they made it impossible to buy an iPad because eBay-traders would buy them all. Apple can never do things right. Oh, and this policy has been lifted, now the initial demand has levelled off and availability is no longer a problem.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by WNight (23683)

          There are many non-intrusive ways to limit people purchasing the entire stock - such as a simple rule of one purchase per time through the line, or one every fifteen minutes.

          And no, I at least wouldn't be complaining. I'd be laughing that their over-hyped, artificially short-supplied launch strategy bit them in the ass. Apple intentionally cultivates this hype among the true believers that would lead to someone standing in line for days or paying a huge premium for early access so they have only themselves

    • by ScrewMaster (602015) on Wednesday July 14, 2010 @05:56PM (#32907658)

      but it is just an another "china and communism is bad"-story when pretty much the same is done in the US.

      Regardless, two wrongs still don't make a right.

      • by interval1066 (668936) on Wednesday July 14, 2010 @06:57PM (#32908158) Homepage Journal

        "but it is just an another "china and communism is bad"-story when pretty much the same is done in the US."

        But its not being implemented at the behest of the US Government. Apparently, its not in China either, yet, but; the comments by this Wang Chen of the State Council Information Office would appear to indicate that it will be, very soon. I do not have to (and I do not) use Apple products or Facebook, and I have access to all the digital services I need. The policies of those services are not governmental policies. Big difference that you seem to be ignoring.

        • by PPH (736903)

          But its not being implemented at the behest of the US Government.

          Are you sure? In China, the government is simply more open about it. In the US, corporations act as the lackeys of the government (either that or they get leaned on themselves). They might use fraud or marketing as an excuse for needing the information. But once they have your name and the gov't asks for it, they get it..

          Remember the big deal about amnesty for the telcos for complying with warrantless information requests?

        • by TapeCutter (624760) * on Thursday July 15, 2010 @02:54AM (#32910560) Journal
          "But its not being implemented at the behest of the US Government. Apparently, its not in China either, yet"

          Indeed!
          The headline claims: "New Chinese Rule Requires Real Names Online"
          The first line of the summary says: "...a leading Chinese Internet regulator is calling for new rules requiring people to use their real names online".

          So which is it? - Required, or someone thinks it should be required?

          I know China censor their net but I'm sick and tired of this sort of journalistic hyperbole. It happens with everything, read any story on the Aussie internet and it sounds like I'm living in NK, except in reality none of what Conroy is "calling for" has been implemented and it will probably stay that way.

          Vigillance is a GoodThingTM but the bullshit tsumami that occurs every time some random official opens their mouth is fucking childish.
        • by dugeen (1224138)
          "The policies of those services are not governmental policies" - but because there are no alternative providers of the same services, the situation is exactly the same in effect as it would be if they were governmental policies.
          • "...because there are no alternative providers of the same services, the situation is exactly the same in effect as it would be if they were governmental policies."

            I guess you're just going to ignore the part wherein I comment that I have access to all the digital services that can be provided by Apple/AT&T/Facebok without having to give them the same information.

        • On the other hand it is done at the behest of the government in France, Australia, India, Sri Lanka, Japan.

          It is quite likely to happen in the US - there are certainly legislators who support the idea.

          As far as I can see the difference between China and "democratic" countries is gradually shrinking.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        The real wrong is our failure to resist these encroachments. It might not be expected of the Chinese, but the Americans... WTF! It's been almost 40 years since people have made any real attempt to alter government/corporate policy. Now they only complain if their favorite TV show is canceled.

      • by tehcyder (746570)

        but it is just an another "china and communism is bad"-story when pretty much the same is done in the US.

        Regardless, two wrongs still don't make a right.

        They don't make for much of a controversy either.

    • So it's not really nothing new, but it is just an another "china and communism is bad"-story when pretty much the same is done in the US.

      No... Don't you see?

      The Chinese infiltrated the economic structure of the United States long ago, forcing people to use their real names for services. Only now that it has been widely adopted as "okay", can China show its true colours.

      We've all had the hoods pulled over our eyes, China controls America!

    • by Jerf (17166)

      So it's not really nothing new, but it is just an another "china and communism is bad"-story when pretty much the same is done in the US.

      Yes, that "requiring real names on WoW forums" really sank like a trace, didn't it? I barely heard about it. You can tell how nobody cares when that happens in the US, because, like, there would have been a big stink about it or something.

      No, wait...

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Trufagus (1803250)

      No, it's not the same thing as what's being done in the US.

      You might have to use your name to buy a cell phone here, but you don't have to use your name online. Individual websites requiring the use of real names is a totally different thing then the gov't requiring it. Imagine how people would react if the U.S. gov't said everyone must use their real names online!

      As well, using my real name is not dangerous here, whereas in China you have a reason to not use your real name. I think it is pretty obvious

    • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Wednesday July 14, 2010 @07:39PM (#32908484) Homepage Journal

      They say it's so that you cannot buy multiple phones

      I remember that whopper. It's got to be up there with the most transparent lies ever told by a major corporation.

      "You can't buy an iPhone with cash because we're worried that we'll sell too many of them".

      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        They say it's so that you cannot buy multiple phones

        I remember that whopper. It's got to be up there with the most transparent lies ever told by a major corporation.

        "You can't buy an iPhone with cash because we're worried that we'll sell too many of them".

        Well, given the iPhone 4, despite its antenna problems, has a 3 week waiting list, and the iPad probably has around 1-2 weeks, I'd say Apple's just not making enough of them. And you want to aggravate the issue by having people pick up 10 at a time?

        Sprint'

    • I think the difference is that with Facebook (which you actually can have a fake name on, BTW - one of my friends recently changed his last name to "Asscakes"), Apple phones and (what almost happened to) the Blizzard Forum, users are choosing to give out their names when there are plenty of alternatives to all three. With this new thing in China, you're only choices are to give your name to a government that has a reputation of punishing political dissidents or stop using the internet.
    • by Zach978 (98911)
      You are comparing the policy of a few private companies to a government. If I don't like Blizzard or Apple's policy, I simply don't buy their products. This move by China is purely to limit the speech of its citizens.
    • by PPH (736903)

      this is required by Apple too. They say it's so that you cannot buy multiple phones,

      I'm the personal assistant of Mr. George Clooney. He would like to give iPhones to 100 of his closest friends as Christmas gifts.

      So, do I get my 100 iPhones? Or is Android going to be the next big thing seen at Cannes?

    • by Pofy (471469)

      "Just like Chinese, this is required by Apple too. They say it's so that you cannot buy multiple phones, but you still are required to give them your real name when you want to buy a phone."

      That is a really stupid thing since names are not unique. Or are you saying that if Bill Johnson buys a phone from Apple, no other Bill Johnson can buy a phone from Apple?

  • Any guess on how many people share the name "Wang Chen" in all of China? Chances are most people could use their real name and still remain relatively anonymous.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by SquarePixel (1851068)

      Any guess on how many people share the name "Wang Chen" in all of China? Chances are most people could use their real name and still remain relatively anonymous.

      Uh, you are talking about "westernized" names. They're quite different to their real names. Also, a lot of Asian countries tend to shorten their names in casual usage and only use the real long name in official situations. For example Thai people have really long names, but casually everyone shortens it to the first 3-4 letters.

    • by _Sprocket_ (42527) on Wednesday July 14, 2010 @06:10PM (#32907810)

      Any guess on how many people share the name "Wang Chen" in all of China? Chances are most people could use their real name and still remain relatively anonymous.

      Certain pieces of information are key nodes that link other clusters of information. You're right in so far as a name itself may not be unique and if given nothing but that piece of information, it'd be hard to single out and individual. But real names are very rarely isolated like that. There is usually a entire clusters of information around a name. And this rule would simply ensure that those clusters stay attached to any given individual (or at least - harder to isolate).

    • There are of course many possibilities of name overlap but I do not think that would be an issue. What it seems they would do is have a registered account to access the internet, similar to that of our Slashdot account except you would only get one, it would use your real name (Social Security number equivalent backing it), and if you posted a bad thing you would lose Karma (being that the largest followed religion is Buddhism).
      Wait, I've seen that Karma somewhere before...

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by victorhooi (830021)

        heya,

        Actually, the largest religion isn't Buddhism (or Taoism), per se, because they aren't really practiced as a "religion", as such.

        Most Chinese just have a mix of weird cultural superstitious, that get passed on in the family. They believe in a heaven (celestial court), and various Gods/deities/ghosts etc, but usually in a very general sense. This is something of a stereotype, but often they'll just pray in the hopes that their kids will get good marks at school, or they'll earn good money etc. They don'

    • by jadin (65295)

      Unless all Wang Chens are "processed" due to the actions of just one.

    • by tverbeek (457094)

      Stoopid ethnic joke heard in my childhood (1970s):

      Q: Why don't they have phone books in China?
      A: Because there are so many Wings and Wongs, you'd probably wing the wong number.

    • by grcumb (781340)

      Any guess on how many people share the name "Wang Chen" in all of China?

      No kidding. Everybody's Wang Chen tonight [youtube.com].

      ... What? Oh....

  • Blizzard? (Score:2, Funny)

    by scumfuker (882056)
    Is that you?
    • by _Sprocket_ (42527)

      This is an advanced indication that China is preparing to become one of Facebook's biggest partners.

  • by Meshach (578918) on Wednesday July 14, 2010 @06:04PM (#32907734)
    From TFA:

    A leading Chinese Internet regulator has vowed to reduce anonymity in China's portion of cyberspace, calling for new rules to require people to use their real names when buying a mobile phone or going online, according to a human rights group

    It looks like some people want that to be the law, not that it is the law.

    • And like US regulators I suspect it's as easy as just writing a rule. Lots of regulatory agencies create rules that are not laws, but have the same force as law, such as the "Know Your Customer" regulation (requires banks report cash transaction greater than $10,000).

  • Although the article does seem biased, I do not mind as I agree with the sentiment that this move to eliminate anonymity is disturbing. This leads me to two questions:

    • What do you think the "end-game" plan is for the governing body of China?
      • Full cutoff from the West?
      • Winning the hearts and minds of its citizens?
      • Encouraging foreign businesses?
      • Something else?

      Something seems a little backwards here...are they really all that naive to see that they may end up losing control?

    • On a less serious note, isn't this
    • by Rakishi (759894)

      I generally assume the Chinese government expects to become a democracy of some sort in the long run. Long being the operative term. Short term they want to avoid ending up like Russia after the Soviet Union fell. Or Africa and India after the colonial powers left. Hell, China itself under Mao is a perfect example of what atrocities can happen when random "revolutionaries" gain power. In other words a slow controlled shift rather than an abrupt one that implodes the economy.

      Remember that it took the west ce

      • While I agree with you about the requirement part for democracy - I think the Chinese government genuinely (for a value of genuine) believes that democracy is not the way to go for china. So don't expect them to actually help to process along, if the go down it will be kicking and screaming.
  • Norway also requires you to provide your real name when buying a mobile phone GSM SIM-card, this even applies to cash-cards -- Just like China. Norway also covertly tortures people, just like China, if they talk about NATOs false-flag terrorism or other issues the government wants the population to stay quitet about.

    In Sweden you can buy a pay-as-you-go SIM-card for $6 (49 SEK) with no questions asked. The only issue with these cards is that the service provider is in theory able to store what SIM card num
    • by Skapare (16644)

      Alla din bas är tillhöra oss!

    • by vbraga (228124)

      Norway also covertly tortures people, just like China, if they talk about NATOs false-flag terrorism or other issues the government wants the population to stay quitet about.

      I must admit I know nothing about Norway but this sparked my curiosity. Can you elaborate or point to sources with more information?

      • by kvezach (1199717)
        The closest thing I could find that would fit his description is this [theflucase.com], but you have to cut through a lot of noise about how the Bilderbergers/NWO/international Jewish conspiracy is controlling the world to get at what it's actually saying. Basically, it seems to have mixed up a person's forcible hospitalization, her statements against the incorporation of Norway into the EU, and her opinions about aforementioned Bilderbergers/NWO/international Jewish conspiracy causing the former because of her statements r
  • The people discussing this are missing the point - this is just a first step for China to attempt to de-anonymize the internet in their country. The people who say "well, they still have some anonymity because of name collisions" are correct, but for how long?

    Things like this are a precursor to more nefarious things, such as requiring government issued passes to connect to the internet to do anything on it.

    • by crossmr (957846)

      hey still have some anonymity because of name collisions" are correct

      No they're not. if it's anything like Korea, then when you register you attach your citizen ID number to it. It's trivial to find out which Mr. Lee you really are.

  • As things stand, unless the user is technically skilled, the real person can often be tracked to the phone / IP address. I think with enough knowledge you could use the web truly anonymously but not many people have that skill. Many will make mistakes that let the government correlate the computer with the person.

  • 'We will make the Internet real name system a reality as soon as possible.'

    When will possible get here?
  • This has been the norm in South Korea for years. But it isn't public full name that is used. Well some people can if they want, but on most sites you're allowed to set a nickname for display. You can still be anonymous so long as you don't break the law. The government just requires that a real identity be attached to each account. Frankly it does have some benefits. It's much harder to troll if you're banned. You have to steal another ID which is illegal to come back and harass people in games, on forums,

  • Bit late now (Score:4, Insightful)

    by EEPROMS (889169) on Wednesday July 14, 2010 @07:04PM (#32908206)
    Am I the only one who sees the weirdness in how people are reacting to the Chinese removing anonymity when western countries have been doing this for years now without so much as a "WTF!!". For example in Italy you cant even walk into a cafe now and go on the internet without some type of ID. Here in Australia if one buys a mobile phone sim card you have to contact the telco and confirm your name and address before they will even let you make calls. This whole thing reminds me of a sad but true saying

    While the State exists, there can be no freedom. When there is freedom there will be no State.- Lenin (1870 - 1924)
    • Hmm, at least we're not quite there yet. Here in the US you can walk into a Starbucks or Borders, buy a hot chocolate with cash, click 'agree' on some ToS and have internet. Also I have not yet been to a hotel (and I travel alot for work) that required any identification to get online (Hampton Inns require a code but that is shared by all hotel residents and obtained from any keycard sleeve).

      That said, apparently to sign up for a new phone contract with most providers in the US you are required to give yo

      • by russotto (537200)

        That said, apparently to sign up for a new phone contract with most providers in the US you are required to give your SSN (there is a way around it for some by paying a hefty deposit). How were they allowed to do this without so much as a whimper? Now I'm stuck with my current provider unless I'd like my telco to have my SSN.

        They want to do a credit check. Either go with prepaid, or pay the deposit.

        If you really want anonymity, you're buying prepaid phones with cash anyway (and discarding them regularly...

      • by mpe (36238)
        Also I have not yet been to a hotel (and I travel alot for work) that required any identification to get online

        But presumably you prebook the room. Would the same apply if you turned up unannounced and paid cash for the room?

        That said, apparently to sign up for a new phone contract with most providers in the US you are required to give your SSN (there is a way around it for some by paying a hefty deposit). How were they allowed to do this without so much as a whimper? Now I'm stuck with my current provi
        • But presumably you prebook the room. Would the same apply if you turned up unannounced and paid cash for the room?

          If you can get online in most hotels without ever booking a room in the first place, what does it matter how you paid?

    • by mpe (36238)
      Am I the only one who sees the weirdness in how people are reacting to the Chinese removing anonymity when western countries have been doing this for years now without so much as a "WTF!!".

      Forcing people to use their "real name" (whatever that actually means) may make they more anonymous if that is a common name or they usually go by a different name. I'm reminded of a sketch from the 1970's involving a car maker called Roberts where everyone was called "Bob".

      For example in Italy you cant even walk into
    • by tehcyder (746570)

      While the State exists, there can be no freedom. When there is freedom there will be no State.- Lenin (1870 - 1924)

      Because all States are exactly the same and there's no difference between living in North Korea, Yemen and Canada.

  • WoW, seems like Blizzard should be packing up and relocating to China. There's some sorta meeting of the minds going on there.

  • I'd like to see them try to force me to use my real name on the Internet..... Oh wait.... Curse you, Chinese Government!!!!

  • Its funny that all point to China *now* about *this*. To be clear on that Chins *has* human rights problems, but when it comes to surveillance and giving up privacy in telecommunications, the west should watch itself a little bit better. Mobile phones are mandatory registered (although its not always enforced) in *many* countries. And the Idea that the Internet gets better if everybody would use the real name is not genuinely Chinese (Hello, Blizzard). In some countries the people who print out emails see t

    • by tehcyder (746570)

      The Nazi/Violent Communist/or whatever is completely unacceptable to you has his right to say his opinion.

      Only up to a point. I know this is anathema to Americans, but at some point your rights stop when they interfere with others, for example in calling for someone's murder.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Everybody Wang Chen tonight
    Everybody have fun tonight.

    (repeat)

    This is going to be so good. The lyrics for the song are just so inspiring in the face of Wang Chen's perspective. I think we can all be Wang Chen tonight. I'm going to be Wang Chen for everything I do online.

    Yours,

    Wang Chen.

  • My name is Cao Ni Ma [wikipedia.org].
    • by rwa2 (4391) *

      Heh, really. How much of a problem will this pose anyway, with millions of people named "Lee This" and "Lee That" anyway. If this happened in the US, we could just all start naming our offspring John/Jill Smith.

      In Thailand (and I think to some extent China) no one really even uses their official names anyway. Everyone has a nickname like "bird" or "smalley" or something like that which they use to address each other... friends, relatives, and strangers alike.

  • The /. headline says " New Chinese Rule Requires Real Names Online". The summary and article however says that one individual, a Director of the State Council Information Office, has called for the introduction of a real-name system.

    I agree that reading the article is all important, but getting the headline right is also important.

  • They may have most 'Chan's but no 4chan for China!!!
  • How many people in China have the same name, probably quite a few...

    What is funny is the tighter the Chinese leaders tighten their grip and the more prosperous the Chinese middle class become the more changes the country will go through leading to a freedom revolution that I expect will occurs in the next 20-30 years.

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