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China's Websites Must Register or Be Closed

The new government rules include private, noncommercial sites such as blogs.

June 08, 2005|From Associated Press

SHANGHAI — Authorities have ordered all China-based websites and blogs to register or be closed, in the latest effort by the communist government to police cyberspace.

Commercial publishers and advertisers can face fines of up to $120,000 if they fail to register, according to documents posted on the website of the Ministry of Information Industry.

Private, noncommercial bloggers or websites must register the complete identity of the person responsible for the site, it said. The ministry, which has set a June 30 deadline for compliance, said 74% of all sites had registered.

"The Internet has profited many people, but it also has brought many problems, such as sex, violence and feudal superstitions and other harmful information that has seriously poisoned people's spirits," the government website said in explaining the rules, which were quietly introduced in March.

All public media in China are controlled by the state, though limits on the Internet have tended to lag as advances in technology and the Web's rapid spread have outstripped Beijing's ability to keep tabs on users and service providers.

China has more than 90 million Internet users, the world's second-largest online population, after the United States.

The government has long required all major commercial websites to register and take responsibility for Internet content. At least 54 people have been jailed for posting essays or other content deemed subversive.

But blogs, or online diaries, and other virtual venues have been harder to police. According to cnblog.org, a Chinese Web log host company, the country has about 700,000 such sites.

Now, however, the government has developed a system to track and close down those caught violating the rules, the ministry said.

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