China’s Communist Party is strengthening Internet control by ordering users of local online video websites to register under their real names to be able to upload content.
The new regulation is presumably designed to help the authorities to suppress anti-governmental voices.
The official statement of China’s State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television said the rule has been implemented to "prevent vulgar content, base art forms, exaggerated violence and sexual content in Internet video having a negative effect on society".
Online video sites are increasingly popular in China, frequently serving as an open platform for critique of social issues with users sharing videos documenting corruption, injustice or abuse carried out by government officials and authorities.
The most popular Chinese online video channels, Youku Tudou and Renren, have about 428 million users. Neither of the two companies was available to comment on the recent decision.
China’s Communist Party started taking action against its critics last year, threatening legal action against people who are spreading ‘rumours’ online and whose posts get reposted or shared more than 500 times and reach the audience of more than 5,000 people.
China has attempted to implement similar real-name registration rules, including when buying SIM cards for mobile phones and signing up for Tencent's WeChat mobile messaging app and microblogs.
However, these have proven difficult to implement and easy to avoid for China's tech-savvy Internet population.
China's Internet regulation system is mired in bureaucracy and overseen by a number of government agencies, including SARFT, the State Council and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, which can lead to conflicts of interest between these bodies.