CHINA'S ALREADY KNOWN for its pervasive internet regulations and control over what people can and cannot see online, perhaps providing a blueprint for other governments around the world...
But now the country is going one step further with new rules that require websites to verify the real identity of their users before allowing them to comment online.
The freshly-announced rules mean that sites and services that don't comply could be be closed down, or even that the internet as a whole within China could be temporarily switched off, according to Bleeping Computer.
While previous attempts to force people to use their real identity online haven't been successful, having the legal power to shut down the entire shebang ought to do the job.
While Facebook also has a policy around using your real name, the aim there is to reduce the amount of harrassment that takes place on the platform by anonymous trolls.
China, in contrast, is doing this as a way to prevent the prevalance of "pornographic [content], false advertising, bloody violence, insulting slander, disclosure of personal privacy and other illegal information," the Cyberspace Administration of China said in its statement.
Of course, it's absolutely nothing to do with controlling people's political freedom of expression or anything like that, of course, or intended to provide a quick and easy means of rounding up anyone who doesn't toe the party line on any particular subject.
And let's not forget this particular episode in China's recent history, when people were first encouraged to speak out, and then later rounded up - for speaking out.
Exactly how it will be implemented by each company hasn't been specified - nor whether those real identities will have to be used publicly online, or just known by the businesses hosting the services.
But, however it is implemented, it's another bump in the road for anyone within China concerned with privacy.
Expect the policy to be replicated by governments around the world very soon. µ
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