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The Boston Globe

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China tightens Internet rules

HONG KONG — The Chinese government issued new rules Friday requiring Internet users to provide their real names to service providers, while assigning Internet companies greater responsibility for deleting forbidden postings and reporting them to the authorities.

The decision came as government censors have sharply stepped up restrictions on China’s international Internet traffic in recent weeks. The restrictions are making it harder for businesses to protect commercial secrets and for individuals to view overseas websites that the Chinese Communist Party deems politically sensitive.

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The new regulations, issued by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, allow Internet users to continue to adopt pseudonyms for their online postings, but only if they first provide their real names to service providers, a measure that could chill some of the vibrant discourse on the country’s Twitter-like microblogs. The authorities periodically detain and even jail Internet users for politically sensitive comments.

Any entity providing Internet access ‘‘should when signing agreements with users or confirming provision of services, demand that users provide true information about their identities,’’ the committee ordered.

The regulations issued Friday build on a series of similar administrative guidelines and municipal rules issued over the past year. China’s mostly private Internet service providers have been slow to comply with them, fearing the reactions of their customers. The committee’s decision has much greater legal force and puts far more pressure on Chinese Internet providers to comply more quickly and more comprehensively, Internet specialists said.

In what appeared to be an effort to make the decision more palatable to the Chinese public, the committee also included a mandate for businesses in China to be more cautious in gathering and protecting electronic data.

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