01/13/2015, 00.00
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Beijing changes the rules, requiring people to register with their real names

China's Cyberspace Administration shuts down 24 websites, 9 online columns and 17 public WeChat accounts, some of which reported wrongdoing by local officials. Now people have to register with their real names.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) - China wants to "beef up" its media rules by requiring people to register with their real names and addresses if they want to use microblogging services like Sina Weibo, internet forums, and other websites.

China's Cyberspace Administration, which made the announcement, did not however reveal details about how the plan would work. Instead, it announced the closure of some websites, including some that carried information about corruption.

Under existing rules, netizens could register without using their real names to participate in discussion forums.

A spokesman for the Cyberspace Administration said that the new rules were the only way to beef up Internet surveillance and punish violators. As part of its crackdown, the agency shut down 24 websites, 9 online columns, and 17 public WeChat accounts.

They were closed, the official said, because they "posed as official media or government departments to release false information, [. . .] carried news stories without obtaining permits from the authority" and "allowed pornographic or other illegal posts".

Two of the 24 websites were grassroots websites that carried petitions to expose corruption and wrongdoings by local officials but were not listed on the website of China's anti-graft watchdog.

A human rights website quoted lawyer Liu Xiaoyuan as saying that Cheng Kangming, founder of one such websites, fanfulianzheng.net, was detained by the police last year after trying to file complaints about the corruption of a Zhejiang official.

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