This is scary stuff. From Reporters Without Borders:
Reporters Without Borders condemns the “self-discipline pact” signed by at least 20 leading blog service providers in China including Yahoo.cn! and MSN.cn. Unveiled yesterday by the Internet Society of China (ISC), an offshoot of the information industry ministry, the pact stops short the previous project of making it obligatory for bloggers to register, but it can be used to force service providers to censor content and identify bloggers.
Under the new pact, blog service providers are “encouraged” to register users under their real names and contact information before letting them post blogs. More seriously, they will be required to keep this information, which will allow the authorities to identify them. These companies have already in the past provided the police with information about their clients, resulting in arrests.
The pact says “blog providers should monitor and manage comments … and delete illegal and bad information in a timely manner.” Articles 11 and 12 urge them to equip themselves with a secure management system that allows them to keep bloggers’ details, including their real name, address, contact number and email address.
ISC secretary-general Huang Chengqing was clear yesterday when he said: “Blog service providers who allow the use of pseudonyms may be more attractive to bloggers, but they will be punished by the government if they fail to screen illegal information.”
Most people know free speech does not exist in China. What continues to amaze me is that American and European companies continue to agree to help the Chinese government monitor, censor and suppress their citizens free speech.