Amid censorship, China requires real-name use for video uploads

In a move that appears designed to limit anonymous free speech, the government orders all people to use their real names when uploading videos to the Internet.

Dara Kerr Former senior reporter
Dara Kerr was a senior reporter for CNET covering the on-demand economy and tech culture. She grew up in Colorado, went to school in New York City and can never remember how to pronounce gif.
Dara Kerr
2 min read

When YouTube tried to cajole US users to go by their real names in an effort to cut down on cruel comments and promote Google+, people got up in arms. Now, a similar thing is happening in China, but users there don't have the option of continuing with anonymous names.

The Chinese government announced on Monday that all people must now register their real names when uploading videos to the Internet, according to Reuters.

Apparently, the move is to crackdown on anti-government dissidents and tighten Internet controls. Video sites are extremely popular in China and are said to be a favorite place for users to upload videos showing government corruption and abuse.

The government didn't explicitly say the real-name registry was politically motivated -- rather, it said the new policy is to "prevent vulgar content, base art forms, exaggerated violence and sexual content in Internet video having a negative effect on society," the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film ,and Television wrote on its Web site, according to Reuters.

As the Internet continues to boom in China, the country's government has worked to control information spread through social networks and blogging sites. The government began requiring real-name registration on all microblogs in 2012; it also has created restrictions that make Internet providers act as Web police for those people who don't abide by the government's rules.

China is also trying to clamp down on the spread of what it calls "online rumors." If a particular rumor is posted to a Web page that has 5,000 or more visits or is reposted on social-networking sites more than 500 times, the person who published the rumor could face a sentence of up to three years in jail.

Additionally, apps have come under fire from the government. Last September, authorities threatened to quash any mobile news app that served up news without approval from the government. China already blocks many major foreign online news outlets and articles from its citizens. Mobile apps can provide a way around such blockades by including unapproved articles in their content.