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China seeks identity of Web site operators

New regulations require photographs and meetings for people to register new Web sites, reports say.

Web site operators will need to offer photographs of themselves and meet Internet service providers in person under new guidelines announced by the Chinese government this week, according to published reports.

The "trial regulations" were issued by China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology under the auspices of an ongoing anti-porn campaign, but they will also help the government create records of all sites in the country and could be used to block other types of online content, the IDG News Service reported Tuesday.

The regulations, which were dated February 8 and posted on sites of the Chinese telcom regulator on Monday, require ISPs to meet people applying to register new Web sites and to collect photographs of them. They also require applicants to provide a description of the site's content, along with other information, the report said.

Web sites without government records will lose their domain name resolution by the end of September, effectively pulling them off the Internet, the news service reported. More than 130,000 sites have been pulled offline recently for not having records with the government, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

China is the largest Internet market, with more than 384 million users of the global network, Xinhua reports.

The tightening of China's clampdown on Internet use comes as government officials there resume talks with Google over the search giant's plans to stop censoring Web searches in that country, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Google and China have been in a showdown since Google announced last month that it was targeted by a hacker attack that appeared to originate in China and which targeted Gmail users who are human rights activists. At the time, Google said it would stop censoring its searches in that domain and might even pull out of the country entirely.