by Xinhua writers Gui Tao and Huang Xin
BEIJING, Dec. 28 (Xinhua) -- By protecting Internet users' legal rights and privacy, new Internet regulations will help, rather than harm, the country's netizens.
China's top legislature on Friday passed rules requiring Internet users to use their real names to identify themselves to service providers when signing web access agreements.
The decision, which aims to ensure online information security and safeguard public interests, has been fearfully interpreted.
Some reports claim that the identity management policy will discourage online muckrakers who have worked to expose corrupt government officials in recent years.
However, many service providers already maintain similar requirements. China Telecom, China Mobile and China Unicom, China's three biggest telecoms companies, have required individuals and enterprises to provide their real names when subscribing to data transmission services since September 2010.
Sina Weibo, a popular microblogging site that has been used by netizens to blow the whistle on corrupt officials, has required users to register with their real names since earlier this year.
Online muckraking is not necessarily incompatible with a requirement to provide genuine identification. Many whistleblowers prefer to use their real names, as they feel this will give their claims more weight.
Other reports state that the identity policy will clamp down on the freedom of speech in Chinese cyberspace. ( But the accusers should know that freedom without limits or responsibility is chaotic and dangerous. No one should enjoy the freedom to spread malicious rumors or libel, even online. The rule should only be feared by slanderers who wish to take advantage of online anonymity.
For law-abiding netizens, the rules passed on Friday will only better safeguard their lawful rights and privacy. The rules, which stress the protection of Internet users' privacy, stipulate that citizens have the rights to demand service providers to delete online information that discloses their identities or infringes upon their own rights.
The decision empowers supervisory departments to take technical and other necessary measures to prevent, stop or punish those who infringe on online privacy.
Instead of depriving netizens' freedom and entitlement, the rules protect the legal rights of every Internet user. The rules will ultimately help to create a better online environment in China.