China is planning to ban its 730 million internet users from making anonymous online comments or using fake identities, with the aim to discourage "false rumors, inappropriate language and illegal messages."
According to the new guidelines published by the Cyberspace Administration of China Friday, the country's internet platforms are required to verify users' true identities before letting them post online content.
Starting from Oct. 1, all social networking sites and discussion forums will have to "check the real identity" of their users before they can post any content and comments.
The platforms will also have to strengthen their oversight over all published information, deleting all illegal content while also alerting authorities to the postings.
Under the new regulations, Chinese internet users also must avoid doing acts such as inciting hatred, ethnic discrimination, spreading rumors, obscenity, violence or terror, as well as damaging national honor or violating laws and regulations.
The government hopes that the new registering requirement –which will probably require a national ID check-- will sway people from partaking in such unlawful behavior.
Although the move will definitely make it harder to post online anonymously –and hence criticize the government-- and is seen as a way for the country to tighten its grip on the web, it has also been regarded as a great step to combat hate speech, provide more cyber security and safer online content.
The new regulations are a part of a cyber security law that took effect in June, which also banned internet users from publishing certain comments and information.
The law requires online platforms to get a license to post news reports or commentary about the government, economy, military, foreign affairs and social issues.
Virtual private networks (VPN), software that allows people to circumvent the Great Firewall, were also banned in the country as part of the law.
Since 2013, China has imposed prison sentences on users whose messages are deemed "defamatory."