Jurisdiction - China
China – Web Users Must Supply Genuine Personal Details, Says Watchdog.

11 February, 2015


China’s internet watchdog has banned the use of ‘mischievous’ online names and insisted users give their personal details to websites.

The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) has announced new rules requiring mainland Chinese internet users to register their real identities with website administrators for all online accounts, including blogs, instant messaging, microblogs and forums.


‘Improper’ online account names, including those with obscene, violent or criminal associations, will also be banned. Names that “undermine ethnic unity or break religious policies are forbidden, so are deliberately mischievous names that spread rumours, disrupt social stability, disseminate obscenity or sexually suggestive material, or otherwise breach the law,” according to the state-run Xinhua news agency.


Responsibility for enforcing the rules, which come into effect on 1 March, will fall on internet service providers.


Hong Kong-based technology law expert Paul Haswell of Pinsent Masons said: “Whilst the move is likely to be seen as another limit upon the freedom of speech of internet users in China, who already have to deal with censorship and outright blocking of content, the bigger question is precisely how the Chinese authorities intend to police and manage these rules.”


“Internet service providers will have to use considerable resources to monitor behaviour and enforce the rules, and it remains to be seen how internet services will be able to distinguish between a real name and a made up one,” he said.


Xu Feng, chief of the Chinese mainland’s top internet watchdog, told the South China Morning Post that the new measures would “help eliminate untrustworthy, incorrect or misleading information”.


Pinsent Masons


John Salmon, Partner, Pinsent Masons

[email protected]


Jon Fell, Partner, Pinsent Masons

[email protected]


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