Beijing has issued yet another draconian directive that requires individuals to meet with government regulators before launching a website.
The new regulations – published by the Technology Ministry – also force website owners to submit their identity cards and personal photos.
Although Beijing claims the law will help prevent the spread of online pornography, Reporters Without Borders termed the legislation a “very disturbing step backwards” for China.
“No one is fooled. The pretext of combating pornography does not hold. The aim is to tighten political control and get Internet users to censor themselves by bringing them face to face with their censors or their agents,” the organization explained in an official statement.
“What netizen will dare to criticize the regime after meeting the person who could put them behind bars for one wrong word? We think that, by creating a very cumbersome administrative procedure, these provisions will be difficult to follow in practice. They will put technical obstacles in the way of those who want to express themselves freely online.”
China is reportedly the world’s biggest prison for netizens, with a total of 70 bloggers, Internet users and cyber-dissidents currently detained.