China has been trying to tighten its control on the web for the past few years. In one such latest attempt, the country has demanded online services providers to verify users' true identity before they can post content online. The Cyberspace Administration of China has issued this order mandating all online services in the country to verify identities before letting users post comment on their sites. The decision takes effect starting October 1.
Not the first time China has demanded sites to check true identities
The country has previously required sites to "check the real identity" of their users before they register on the site. However, the latest decision affects any and all kind of written content, including comments on news sites, status messages on social networks, posts on forums, live broadcasts, etc.
All social networking, publishing and other sites will be required to connect an online profile with a real identity before allowing a user to post content. The National Internet Information Office has also demanded these sites to strengthen their oversight on the published content, quickly remove any illegal content, and inform authorities about this incident and the person responsible for the post.
The government of China justifies such a draconian measure as a step taken to prevent "pornographic, false advertising, bloody violence, insults, slander, the disclosure of personal details, and other illegal information."
Five years ago in 2013, the country first imposed prison sentences on users whose content was considered defamatory. The new cybersecurity law in China that went into effect in June this year takes these sentences even further helping the government have a stricter control over what is shared online.
With this latest decision, it will become nearly impossible for people in China to post anonymously or protest against something without putting their lives at risk. Critics believe that the publishing and social media sites will be willing to comply with the government as the Chinese government passed a law last November granting authorities powers to shut down any site that didn't meet its regulations.
It is expected that the sites will soon start requiring users to verify their identities using either the government issued IDs or their phone numbers that are also connected to the actual IDs.
China has been strengthening its control over the internet ahead of the autumn congress as the President Jinping is expected to be re-elected. Earlier this summer, the country also put a ban on VPN services - a decision that Apple complied with and is currently facing questions from the United Nations.