Remark: the following news article refers to weibo (微博), or weiboke (微博客). This doesn’t necessarily confine the set of rules in question to Sina.com‘s Weibo, but to all kinds of microblogs, as Weibo simply means “microblog”, and any microblog platform other than Sina.com’s Weibo would be a “weibo” in Chinese, too. Besides, it seems unlikely that a set of legislation or rules would single out just one provider. I’ll therefore translate weibo as microblogs in the following paragraphs — JR
[Update, Dec 16: while these rules seem to apply only for the Beijing metropolitan area, a BBC report suggests that they will affect all providers registered in Beijing – this would include Sina and Sohu. One could argue that this effectively turns the “Beijing city government’s regulations” into national regulations.]
China National Radio (CNR) Net, Beijing, December 16, 2011 – Beijing city government has announced the implementation of “Beijing City Microblog Development Management and other regulations”, saying that any organization or individual who registers an account with microblogs must provide information about his or her real identity, and websites that run microblogs must ensure that this information is true. The regulations also require that no accounts with false identity information are created, and that no “fans” must be traded.
The regulations also demand that any organization or individual who registers a microblog account, writes, reproduces, publishes or disseminates information must use real ID information, and must not do so by a false identity, or an identity of someone else, and that companies and organizations must register with a code number.
A spokesperson for Beijing’s internet administration department said that the real identity information has to be given to the website running a microblog, while the username could be chosen freely. More folksy-put, there would be “a real name backstage, and a freely-chosen name on stage”.
The regulations point out that by adhering to the principles of active use, scientific development, legal administration, maintenance of security, the building and use of micro blogs, providers should play a positive role in society.
From a practical perspective, websites which operated micro blogs and users alike were called upon to disseminate information orderly, and to protect their legal interests. The public in general called for an honest network system, and the websites and micro bloggers should therefore communicate true, accurate information, and should not communicate false and harmful information.
The regulations stipulate that “in this city [i. e. Beijing], website operators and micro blog providers must go through the relevant business license approval procedures, and apply to the city government internet content administration departments, in accordance with the law, for auditing and approval”.
In a somewhat more detailed article*), the city government’s regulations are quoted as requiring already existing operators and providers to get the formalities of application and approval done within three months, as there had been “some” cases where operators and micro bloggers hadn’t performed their duties in accordance with the laws and regulations, and to implement the regulations with the users.
I seem to remember several previous attempts by either national or local governments to make the Chinese internet more “transparent”. If this local test in Beijing’s metropolitan area proves to be more successful, and if it is going to be spread to the rest of the country, remains to be seen. It would obviously make the CCP’s supervision much easier, and it would also be in line with the “social management” concept,
*) originally published by chinanews.com‘s IT website, republished by CNR.
» Online Guidance of Public Opinion, Nov 28, 2011
» BoZhu Interview: A Common Virtual Space, October 23, 2011
» Learn from Japan: a Normal Internet, April 23, 2011
» The Center Forever, March 13, 2011