02/23/2010, 00.00
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Beijing wants more control over the internet as broadband connections grow

Broadband connections are set to reach the record number of 551 million by 2014. China’s government is trying to find ways to identify users and eliminate anonymity from the web. Google is close to discovering who hacked its servers. Evidence points to Beijing.
Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Citing national security, China seeks more controls on the internet. In the meantime, mainland broadband connections are expected to hit 551 million and Google appears to be close to finding out who hacked its servers last year, ostensibly someone close to Beijing.

In a recent statement,Chinese Industry and Information Technology Minister Li Yizhong said Beijing was studying a new policy to require all internet and mobile phone users to register their real identities with officials.

A senior military officer separately called for a new national body to "fight online infiltration and attacks".

Li said stricter controls on internet access and mobile phone usage were necessary due to the rapid pace of innovation in electronic technology.

"Currently, internet information security is facing a severe challenge, and guaranteeing security is our utmost responsibility," he said. "At the moment, related departments are looking into ways to establish a system to verify the real names of mobile phone and internet users."

Meanwhile, Mainland broadband connections, including high-speed mobile phone links, could reach more than 551 million by 2014.

The country's three integrated fixed and wireless services provider—China Telecom, China Mobile and China Unicom—have plans to expand aggressively their broadband infrastructure to meet market demands.

However, enhanced internet control could have further diplomatic ripples for China.

US government analysts are close to finding out who was behind attacks against Google that began late last year, which pushed the internet giant to publicly criticise the Chinese government and threaten to pull out of the Chinese market.

In connection with this situation, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke out against internet censorship in a long speech a few weeks ago, calling on governments around the world to guarantee online freedom.

A researcher working for Washington believes someone with links to the Chinese government wrote the key part of a spyware programme used in hacking Google, and even posted parts of the programme to a hacking forum, describing it as something he was "working on”.

Analysts traced the online attacks to the prestigious Shanghai Jiaotong University.

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