The concept of ending anonymity by requiring bloggers to using their real names is going ahead in China, albeit with the deceptively soft practice of requiring companies to “self-discipline” themselves.
Yahoo and MSN, amongst other Internet companies, have agreed to new government guidelines that are “encouraging” such companies to register real names, addresses, and other personal details for authors of blogs. While it seems like such actions are voluntary, international media watchdogs claim that such “encouragement” will be acted upon as though it were no different than official policy.
Vincent Brossel of Reporters Without Borders cautions that this kind of wording, for example, will ultimately have a chilling effect on the kind of dialogue going on amongst the 30 million bloggers in China. On the other hand, experienced China watchers might say that this kind of activity has already been going on; that is to say, international companies who have wanted to do business in China may have already been censoring blogs as acts of good faith with the Chinese government.
Government guidelines of “encouragement” and “self-discipline” merely codify this practice.