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China tightens internet controls

February 26, 2010

China has the world's biggest online population: more than 380m users
BBC
February 23, 2010 18:52]

China has tightened controls on internet use,
requiring anyone who wants to set up a website to
meet regulators and produce ID documents.

The technology ministry said the measures were
designed to tackle online pornography, but
internet activists see it as increased government censorship.

A number of websites are now being registered
overseas in an attempt to avoid controls.

China has the world's biggest online population: more than 380m users.

The Ministry of Industry and Information
Technology on Tuesday lifted a freeze introduced
in December on registration for new individual websites.

Extensive censorship

But the technology ministry said would-be website
operators would now have to submit identity cards
and photos of themselves, as well as meeting
regulators before their sites could be registered.

The freeze had been imposed by the
state-sanctioned group which registers domain
names, after complaints by state media that not
enough was being done to screen websites for pornography.

The BBC's Quentin Sommerville in Beijing says
that despite extensive censorship, the internet
remains a surprisingly vibrant and critical environment in China.

Internet users have used it to highlight cases of
injustice or to embarrass corrupt officials.

China's web users often manage to stay one step
ahead of government controls, says our correspondent.

The Chinese authorities have launched a number of
campaigns against online pornography, with the
government saying thousands of people were detained last year alone.
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