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China Tightens Rules on Internet Use

China has new rules that require people to use their real names when registering for Internet services. The rules also require Internet companies operating in China to remove material said to be objectionable. Chinese lawmakers approved the measures on December 28th, at the end of a five-day meeting of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress. The new rules say network service providers must "strengthen management of information released by users." The providers have been ordered to stop the spread of banned information, and to deal with the problem. The Xinhua news agency says those steps include removing the information from the Internet and reporting it to the government.Chinese officials say the rules are aimed at protecting the personal information and stopping abuses like junk e-mail. But, critics say real-name registration will discourage individuals from reporting corruption and official abuses because they are afraid of possible action against them. The new Internet regulations go into effect as the Chinese government campaigns against virtual private networks, or VPNs. Some reports say the government is increasing its effort to block VPNs. Duncan Clark is an adviser to Stanford University's Graduate School of Business. He says there is often an increase in Internet censorship during sensitive events like the recent 18th Communist Party Congress, which named China's new leaders. He said these periods are normally followed by reduced enforcement. But this time, he said, it is unclear if that will be the case with the new leadership.

For VOA Learning English, I'm Carolyn Presutti. (Adapted from a radio program broadcast 07Jan2013)