Yahoo Inc., Microsoft Corp. and other providers of blogging technology in China agreed to try to sign up users under their real names and to censor their posts, a journalism advocacy group that condemns the accord said Thursday.
Under the accord with the Internet Society of China, an offshoot of the Information Industry Ministry, the companies are "encouraged" to register users under their real names, Reporters Without Borders said in a statement. The companies may be forced to censor content or identify bloggers, the Paris-based group said.
The agreement is detrimental to free speech because service providers would be forced to divulge bloggers' identities or be punished by the government, Reporters Without Borders said. The companies also are required to "delete illegal and bad information" from blogs, the group said.
"As they already did with website hosting services, the authorities have given themselves the means to identify those posting 'subversive' content by imposing a self-discipline pact," the group said.
The accord stopped short of banning anonymous blogging, a technique Chinese Internet users have used to criticize the government for fear of reprisal. China had 162 million users in June, second only to the U.S.
Microsoft said it wouldn't ask users to reveal their identities.
"The document makes some recommendations that Microsoft does not support," Adam Sohn, director of the company's online services group, said in a statement.
"We will not implement real-name registration for blogging in our Windows Live Spaces service."
Yahoo spokeswoman Linda Du referred questions to Alibaba.com Corp., which runs Yahoo's site in China. Porter Erisman, a spokesman for Alibaba.com, didn't immediately comment.
Other blog providers that agreed to the accord include Sohu.com Inc. and Qianlong Wang, Reporters Without Borders said.