Tuesday, 29 May 2007

It seems that, sometimes, 'They' do listen

China is not exactly known for it’s willingness to allow the open and free exchange of information. For a start it blocks news websites and regularly blocks websites that do not agree with government views.

However this is hopefully some good news. The Chinese government had been planning to force millions of Chinese bloggers to register their real names. It is estimated there are some 20 million bloggers in China and the idea mooted last year provoked enormous objections from Chinese internet users, rejecting the idea as a move by the government to control information.

The government had attempted to justify the compulsory scheme by suggesting that it would make bloggers more ‘responsible for their behaviour’ and that real-name registration would ‘protect’ users from libel, pornography and other ‘harmful’ information.

Now the Chinese government has backed away from actually forcing bloggers to register and are bringing in a voluntary code instead. It will encourage bloggers to register with their real names and personal details, offering improved services as an incentive to those who register.

Blogs in China have developed into an informal way of spreading news that can not be got through mainstream media - popular blogs get millions of hits every day.

Keeping in mind that they were facing a compulsory system, it seems as if bloggers are cautiously welcoming the new voluntary code.

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