China Proposes Full Name Registration For Every User To Make Its Internet "Healthier, More Cultured And Safer"
With various "gun control" proposals flying fast and furious (precisely the reactionary kneejerk reaction Ron Paul warned would happen), some of which as brilliant as RFIDing every gun in existence, supposedly including the tens of millions of illegal and unregistered ones, it is perhaps appropriate to see how another authoritarian government - China - deals with its own equivalent of the touchy Second Amendment, its "First", or the right to free speech in a society which for decades has had none, and where the internet makes free speech regulation impossible (very much any gun control in a nation in which there is one gun for every person is impossible). China's solution, according to Reuters, the requirement of a real name registration for internet access for every person, "extending a policy already in force with microblogs in a bid to curb what officials call rumors and vulgarity...A law being discussed this week would mean people would have to present their government-issued identity cards when signing contracts for fixed line and mobile internet access, state-run newspapers said."
"The law should escort the development of the internet to protect people's interest," Communist Party mouthpiece the People's Daily said in a front page commentary, echoing similar calls carried in state media over the past week. "Only that way can our internet be healthier, more cultured and safer."
Many users say the restrictions are clearly aimed at further muzzling the often scathing, raucous - and perhaps most significantly, anonymous - online chatter in a country where the Internet offers a rare opportunity for open debate.
It could also prevent people from exposing corruption online if they fear retribution from officials, said some users.
It was unclear how the rules would be different from existing regulations as state media has provided only vague details and in practice customers have long had to present identity papers when signing contracts with internet providers.
Earlier this year, the government began forcing users of Sina Corp's wildly successful Weibo microblogging platform to register their real names.
The government says such a system is needed to prevent people making malicious and anonymous accusations online and that many other countries already have such rules.
"It would also be the biggest step backwards since 1989," wrote one indignant Weibo user, in apparent reference to the 1989 pro-democracy protests bloodily suppressed by the army.
Chinese internet users have long had to cope with extensive censorship, especially over politically sensitive topics like human rights, and popular foreign sites Facebook, Twitter and Google-owned YouTube are blocked.
The above does beg the question: did China actually not require full name registration for internet access previously? Because last we checked, even in such beacons of liberty as the US, one's internet browsing is always linked to one's IP address, which in turn is linked to a ISP, which in turn has always demanded proof of identity (not to mention payment) from every end-user.
That said, the popular Chinese response is correct: limitation of civil rights and an encroachment of government is never good, and is thus, always bad. Whether it refers to amendment #1, #2 or any other one. Sadly, ethical considerations are the last thing that drives a government's actions, whose only prerogative in an insolvent world in which central banks, which are rapidly becoming fully controlled branches of government (see Japan), is to get bigger as fast as possible, and have directly control over as much as possible while preserving the illusion of democracy and personal liberty.