back to article China turns the screws on netizens with real-name registration plans

Any hopes that the recent change in Communist Party leadership would signal a relaxing of online restrictions in China appear to have been dashed after state media revealed plans for the roll-out of real-name registration for all internet users. The nation’s top policymakers on the Standing Committee of the National People's …


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  1. David 45

    Paranoia strikes again

    Most governments are somewhat paranoid about the net (to put it mildly) and the Chinese are no exception. It allows free speech and we can't have that! Ironically, I understand that Chinese politicians have been accused of corruption and wrong-doing themselves, so the words pot and kettle come to mind.

    1. LarsG

      Re: Paranoia strikes again

      Yes, the UK Goverment is also exhibiting signs that they are coming down with it.....

      It is certainly a virulent disease.

      1. Graham Marsden
        Big Brother

        Re: Paranoia strikes again

        Well, yes.

        Anything that challenges the power base of an entrenched minority who know that they can only remain in charge by making sure the peasants are kept under control is a threat which must be dealt with.

        And the same goes in China...

  2. M Gale

    I'm pretty sure Virgin, TalkTalk et al have your real name, or at least the name your bank account is registered with.

    1. PyLETS
      Big Brother

      Yes my ISP know my name

      It's not difficult to know who lives long term at any particular address given the local political parties have the unedited version of the electoral register. But my ISP doesn't know the names of everyone who uses my WiFi or the wired network on my side of the router. In practice I can imagine many Chinese users sharing login credentials in practice if such become required routinely to get through the web proxies. Next they'll be locking up users for doing that.

      I'd also hazard a guess that the restrictions on IPV4 address availability and the inevitable breakage which comes from multiple NAT layers work pretty much but not entirely on the side of the Chinese great firewall management. IPV6 seems potentially like a breath of fresh air in comparison, as it appears to allow for all sorts of unofficial and potentially interesting ways of privatising address management and routing.

    2. jonathanb Silver badge

      Yes, but you can get a pay as you go SIM for cash in a supermarket without telling anyone who you are.

      1. Alan Firminger

        If you say so.

        I have an old pay as you go mob that comes out about three days a year. Originally, on principle, I bought anonymous cards to replenish it. Then they became unavailable. I presume because authority wants to know who. So now I top up at the hole-in-the-wall and they have got me nailed.

        I bet that pay as you go SIM either have a secret method of identification or they will soon disappear.

        1. Tim Watts

          I bought a Three MiFi unit from their shop with cash and no ID, so it is possible to get unidentified internet access. Just be sure to wear a disguise for all the CCTV cameras while you do it..

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "I bet that pay as you go SIM either have a secret method of identification or they will soon disappear."

          The default triangulation tracking of an anonymous sim will do all that is needed to identify users in most situations. You might be OK if you never keep it switched on except when making calls, and don't use it in any public location where other records can be cross referenced (any CCTV footage, use at private or work addresses, membership clubs, ATM records, purchase records at same time and location, etc).

          All seems a bit extreme unless you've got a beard and are hiding in a cave.

  3. dssf

    Go to McDonalds, KFC, etc, to sur, and you

    Must provide a mobile phone number or something identifying. Check in to a motel, and wifi is open and frfee, but, the motel has your name, credit card, passport number, room number, and all your traffic. This was the case for me in Qingdao and Shanghai.

  4. Long Fei

    How, one wonders

    You already have to register, or at least your landlord does, when you get an internet connection here. I'm not sure how they are going to register each and every connection?

    As mentioned elsewhere, Macs, Starbucks and some other places need you to send an SMS to a number to get a login to go online, though I think that's as much to stop you sitting there and browsing all afternoon as much as anything (the logins have time restrictions on - Macs is half an hour). Quite a few other places just offer open wifi though.

    Plus, let's not forget that Chinese people are infamous for 'finding ways around' all the rules, or just plain ignoring them. It's practically a national pastime.

  5. Boris S.

    Why wouldn't you expect real names?

    It's pretty silly to think requiring real names for internet access is inappropriate.

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Why wouldn't you expect real names?

      There are many instances where anonymity is a good thing. As a writer I can think of many situations where what I write could get me imprisoned, attacked and/or killed in certain regions of the world. This is by governments and not individuals. When Nicholas Copernicus put forward the idea that the Earth revolved around the sun, he could have been excommunicated or killed outright for blasphemy if he hadn't published his hypothesis anonymously. Keep in mind that at the time excommunication was a blacklisting that would rob you of your money your ability to get work, the loss of your friends and often, family.

      People often post offensive comments under an anonymous name and this just reflects on the poor job their parents did raising them. There is a trade-off to nearly everything in life. Finding a balance between two poles is what we should strive for. We can give up our privacy as our governments wish to protect us against terrorism, but it doesn't actually help. The secret police wind up with too much information to process rather than the "too little" data they claim they have without invasions of privacy. The poles of balance are shifted the other way and in the process we all lose.

      If you have nothing to hide, please post you SSN, Mother's maiden name, current address and banking information. I promise that I won't do anything bad with the info. (I reserve the right to define "bad")

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Why wouldn't you expect real names?

        > People often post offensive comments under an anonymous name and this just reflects on the poor job their parents did raising them.

        I'd venture their parents did a better job than the parents of those people who post offensive comments under their real name.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    530,000,000 users

    Less than ~400 surname + initial combinations covers ~75% of them.

    Signed: J. Chang

  7. Dragon Leaves

    well in canada,,,.

    u need prooof of id too, doesn.t it work that way everywhere? ??

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: well in canada,,,.

      Proof of literacy would do in some cases.

  8. Luke W.

    well in France ...

    Any ISP requests proof of ID, utility bill as proof of address, and bank account information for direct debit.

    OMG, France is worse than China !! ;-)

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