There seem to be some varying opinions on whether China is really going to be requiring bloggers to register their blogs using their real names or not. Earlier in the week, it was widely reported that the ISC (Internet Society of China), a quasi-governmental organization that exists under the umbrella of the MII (Ministry of Information Industry), had published a draft “code of conduct” that would encourage but not mandate that users register under their own names. According to Xinhua:
The Chinese government looks set to back down from its long-held intention to impose strict real-name registration for the country’s 20 million bloggers after outcries from the industry.
In a draft self-discipline code for blog services published by the Internet Society of China (ISC) on Tuesday, real-name registration is only to be “encouraged” instead of being made compulsory…
…The code, published on the Internet to solicit public opinions, was drafted by a blog research group within the ISC. The group consists of blog providers and industry experts and was set up in October 2006 to discuss issues relating to the development and regulation of the blogging industry.
The Associated Press, however, references the very same ISC document that Xinhua uses to refute the Chinese news agency’s claim that the “self-discipline code” represents a withdrawal from the government’s initial registration requirements:
A report Tuesday by the official Xinhua News Agency said the society’s guidelines would loosen controls by letting bloggers use pseudonyms when blogging on the net.
However, the guidelines on the ISC Web site say clearly that they require Internet services to register clients’ identities. It adds that providers should encourage them to use real names when blogging too.
Article 13: Encourage Blog Service Providers to implement real-name registration for blog authors, and through the creation of real-name blog communities provide high quality service to those authors; promote the outstanding posts of real-name authors, and build quality real-name blogs.
We think that the confusion is related to the interpretation of the concept of “guidelines,” with the AP ostensibly taking the position that any “guidelines” coming from the mouthpiece of the Chinese government are probably a lot harder and faster than “guidelines” found elsewhere. Personally, we registered our own blog under the name “Regina Phalange,” and since that’s our real name we figure we’re pretty much out of the woods regardless of what the MII decides.