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China: Real Name Registration for Micro-blogging

Categories: China, Advocacy, Internet governance, Regulation

The Beijing city government introduced a new set of regulations on December 16, 2011 to control the flow of information in micro-blogging platforms. The Beijing Municipal Regulations Concerning the Development and Control of Microblogs [zh] (English version via Bill Bishop) requires users to register their real identity before posting messages on micro-blogging platforms or they will be in the read-only mode. Micro-blogging service providers have to verify the identity of their users within 3 months.

Forbidden Content

In addition, all users are forbidden from distributing messages that:

1. violate the principles of the constitution;
2. endanger national security, disclose state secrets, incite sedition of state, destroy national unity;
3. harm the nation's honor and interest;
4. incite ethnic hatred, discrimination and unity;
5. against the nation's religion policy, propagate religious cults and superstition;
6. spread rumors, disrupt public order and stability;
7. spread obscenity, gambling information, violence, horror or information that induce criminal activities;
8. defamatory comments or information that violate other's legal rights;
9. incite illegal assembly, demonstration, protest and gathering that disrupt public order;
10. illegal civic groups’ activities;
11. content forbidden by any other law and regulation.

Identity verification code


According to the Beijing authority's press conference, a user has to verify his/her real identity to a government designated authority. The authority would then issue a verify code for the user to register his/her micro-blog account.

The China Media Project has translated the local news story and Professor Zhen Jiang's comments on the regulation. Zhen argues that the regulation does not have legal ground.

Meanwhile, the state propaganda China Central Television has produced a number of news features in support of the micro-blogging real name registration system. Criticisms against the regulation are deleted in matter of seconds in Sina Weibo.