Yearender: China strives to regulate cyberspace
www.chinaview.cn 2006-12-12 12:56:32

    NANJING, Dec. 12 (Xinhua) -- Chen Tangfa became a symbol for a campaign to regulate China's Internet users when he sued a blog website this year.

    In November, the professor with Nanjing University based in the capital of east China's Jiangsu Province, after a year-long legal battle, won a defamation lawsuit against chinacn.com., in China's first blog-related litigation.

    The blogger had libelously described Chen as "a hooligan" in an article posted on the website.

    The ruling at Nanjing Intermediate People's Court ordered the website to carry an apology on its homepage and pay Chen 1,000 yuan (128 U.S. dollars) in compensation.

    Chen believed that as a mass medium, the Internet should not been titled to override the law to harm people's legitimate interests. "Nobody, even bloggers, should be permitted to realize freedom to speech at the expense of someone else's dignity," said the professor.

    According to the Internet Society of China, the number of bloggers who use Chinese reached 19.87 million in early November, and that of blog readers, 75 million.

    As the blog business expanded, difficulties in scrutiny cropped up.

    Chen's case sparked debate over real-name online registration system.

    The Internet Society of China (ISC) confirmed the government was considering requiring Internet users to provide their real names and identification card numbers before they could open a blog or post online comments.

    Users would have to provide their personal information to website operators when opening a blog or registering on a bulletin board, but they will still be free to write under pseudonyms, according to the ISC. Their real identities would remain confidential and protected under the limited real-name system if they did "nothing illegal or harmful to the public".

    Opponents of the system say blogging is a modern grass-roots phenomenon that is flourishing for the very reason that people are free to express themselves.

    Advocates said the protection of personal privacy should not be extreme. "A balance should be reached between personal privacy and public and national interests," said Huang Chengqing, head of the ISC.

    So-called "hooligan software" has also raised hackles this year, with Dong Haiping initiating the China Anti-malicious Software Alliance, which has become a major force against hooligan software in China.

    Since September, the organization has launched a series of anti-malicious software actions, including litigation, against leading portals to defend their rights and interests.

    In mid November, the People's Court at Chaoyang District in Beijing, made China's ruling against Dong and his alliance in the first court case, but the alliance has filed an appeal with a higher court.

    Promoted by the non-governmental efforts, the ISC established an anti-malicious software working group. In late November, the group posted online criteria for affirming malicious software, including software for advertising, spying, browser hijacking and mandatory installation. This was the first substantial response by a government organization against malicious software.

    Huang Chengqing said the ISC would hammer out a code of ethics for the software industry on the basis of research results by the working group.

    Offenders would have their malicious software removed or be penalized. A blacklist of malicious software, with the names, websites for downloading and developers' names, will be published online, said Huang.

    Other endeavors to make the web cleaner this year included the Ministry of Information Industry's fight against junk mails and its campaign to crack down on pornographic websites.

    Chen Hui, the 28-year-old creator of China's largest pornographic website, was sentenced to life imprisonment on Nov. 22.

    In 1987, China recorded its first e-mail, signaling its entry into the Internet era. At the end of this year, the country had 130 million Internet users and is set to overtake the number of the United States.

    The Internet has become an indispensable part of daily life of millions and provided an efficient platform to exchange views.

    In March, a Chinese mother blogged an article on children's education. The number of its page views has since exceeded 1.5 million.

    Recently, a researcher in Shanghai made a posting, saying the image of Chinese dragon might be misunderstood by foreigners. Nearly 90 percent of China's netizens opposed the statement. On Dec. 10, netease.com, a leading portal, had registered 10,401 comments posted the topic.

Editor: Yao Runping
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