The situations for which a Chinese Internet user can maintain an anonymous online profile are getting less and less.
Yesterday, China’s State Administration of Press, Publication, Film, Radio and Television issued a notice that requires those who upload a video online to use their real names (hat/tip Tech in Asia). The notice says that Web video services can only host videos which have been uploaded by someone with a “true identity” — which suggests users will need to verify their identity according to their national ID — and cannot host anything that comes from users without real names.
Alarm bells over an increase in original and user-generated content on China’s Web video services already started ringing back in 2012, when the Chinese government reached out to providers like Sina and Youku to inform them that they will be held responsible for all content posted to their services and issued a circular that emphasized “good” Web series and micro-films would help develop a positive Web culture. The government claimed then that some online programs contained seriously vulgar and violent content, and a few shows even used lewd and gory scenes as a publicity stunt.
The latest notice is a supplementary follow-up to that particular circular released in July 2012 — and the government cites the same reasons for making users own up to the videos they post online, with their real names. However, it can’t be denied that this move also hints that the government could be feeling the heat from videos touching on political issues that circulate on the Web.
After all, in late 2012, China made it mandatory for all Internet users to register with their real names — which followed nearly a year after the Chinese government introduced a compulsory real-name policy to the country’s Twitter-like microblogging services, which include Sina Weibo and Tencent Weibo.
Headline image via Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images