Following last month’s ban on VPN apps from App Store in China, the country’s government has moved to ban anonymity from the internet. Now no internet user can comment using a fake identity.
Continuing making life difficult for internet users, China’s internet regulators released new rules that state that users will need to provide their real identity if they want to participate in online comments.
First reported by Quartz, the new rules enforced by the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) which goes into effect starting October 1, 2017, will limit the activity of internet users who fail to provide a real identification.
While major services such as WeChat and Weibo already have similar rules in place which require users to register using their real name, the new rules target online communities and discussion forums as a whole.
“Internet forum community service providers shall require the user to register the account through the authentication of the information and carry out the verification of the true identity information of the sponsor and the manager,” the CAC announcement reads.
“Internet forum community service providers shall not provide information dissemination services to users who do not provide real identity information.”
Following the new cyber security law implemented in June, the government has been on a spree to stop services that they can not really control.
And it’s not just the global services that have been at the receiving end, they have even been censoring their own native websites such as Sina Weibo and recently put limitations on its streaming capabilities.
Censorship in India?
India has north of 400 million internet users and that number is rising day by day. Will similar censorship laws by the government be a useful tool for a healthy environment on the internet?
Well, there are divided schools of thoughts on this matter. Some people might argue that censoring anonymity — as has been done in China — is necessary given the increasing number of troll accounts on social media platforms as well as other online forums.
Others argue that the same anonymity is a useful tool for victims of abuse or whistleblowers to come forward without needing to reveal their real identification.
Take for instance cases such as the current ‘Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh’ verdict which has created unrest not only on the roads but also social media platforms and online forums.
Over here the first school of thought might contest that taking away anonymity will mean that even those with malicious intent will need to speak up using their real identity and face the consequence.
But at the same time, a person — who might also be a victim — might lose a medium to voice their opinion without revealing their true identity, which needless to say will have consequences in the real world.
It can also be argued that some relaxation of these censorship laws can be exercised in special cases, thereby granting anonymity, but then who is going to be responsible for these ‘anonymity’ grants makes up another case for a debacle.