Beijing seeks real-name registration for bloggers

Blog service providers in China are 'encouraged' to register users with their real names and contact information, according to a new government document that tones down an earlier proposal banning anonymous online blogging, an Associated Press report said.

The Associated Press report said at least 10 major Chinese blog service providers have agreed to sign the 'self-discipline pledge' issued by the Internet Society of China, the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported.

Online bulletin boards and blogs are the only forum for most Chinese to express opinions before a large audience in a society where all media are state-controlled, the report said.

China has the world's second-biggest population of Internet users after the US, with 137 million people online. It also has 30 million registered bloggers, and more than 100 million Chinese Internet users visit blogs regularly, according to the ISC. The group is under the Ministry of Information Industry.

The report also said the guidelines, effective immediately, 'encouraged' real-name registration of users, according to a copy posted on the Internet group's web site.

The information, to be filed with the companies, not posted online, should include the user's name, address, contact numbers and email address, it said.

Measures listed in the document were guidelines only and blog service providers were not required to comply, said an official at the Internet group.

It was not clear whether the guideline calling for real-name registration covered bloggers only or whether it extended to people who post comments, the report further said.