China Bans Anonymous Blogs

The government of China is requiring bloggers to register sites using their real name and contact information.

The Internet Society of China has recommended to the government that bloggers be required to use their real names when they register blogs, state media said on Monday, in the latest attempt to regulate free-wheeling Web content.


Bloggers anonymously disseminating untrue information on the Internet brought about a negative influence on society, the Xinhua report said. Under the proposed rule, users would be required to register under their real name to open a blog but would still be allowed to write under a pseudonym.

So, bloggers could be anonymous to everyone except the state, the entity which might jail them. Like Bruce McQuain, I believe this obviously creates the potential for a powerful chilling effect.

Philosophically, I prefer my news and opinions to come from people willing to stand behind their words. That only works, however, in the context of a free society.

UPDATE: Somewhat amusingly, McQ’s coblogger, Dale Franks, reports on continued efforts by the U.S. Army to make it harder for milbloggers to post freely. See also my post from last week on the subject.

The irony here is that, while one understands the motivations of both the ChiComs and the brass, the second is actually more harmful. Making it hard to express critical opinions is actually in the interests of the PRC leadership, albeit not their population. The U.S. Army, meanwhile, benefits far more from getting the views of its soldiers on the ground out there than it risks in terms of operational security.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.