Dec 242012
 December 24, 2012  Posted by  Featured News, Non-U.S., Online

Xu Chi reports:

China is cracking down on the theft, sale or abuse of personal information with the country’s top legislature deliberating a draft decision to tighten online security and protect Internet users’ privacy.

China will protect digital information that could be used to determine the identity of a user or that concerns a user’s privacy, according to the draft decision submitted to the bimonthly session of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress yesterday.

Read more on Shanghai Daily. While that may sound attractive to readers, some of the possible changes would not be so palatable here:

Meanwhile, Internet users will be required to identify themselves to service providers, including Internet or telecommunications operators, before they can publish any information on their online platforms, according to the draft. Internet users may use nicknames when publishing information online but only after they complete the identity checking process.

“Such identity management could be conducted backstage, allowing users to use different names when publicizing information,” Li Fei, deputy director of the Commission for Legislative Affairs of the NPC Standing Committee, was quoted by Xinhua news agency as telling lawmakers yesterday.

The draft decision aims to enhance social management on the Internet and ensure the safety of information online, Li said.

If that doesn’t have a chilling effect on political speech, nothing will. Of course, the government’s rationale for the change has to do with reducing online crime:

According to one report by a major anti-computer virus company, more than 257 million people in China had been the victims of Internet crime in the 12 months since July last year.

The report said these crimes had caused direct economic losses of 289 billion yuan (US$46.3 billion).

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