Restrictive Chongqing Internet regulations revised under public pressure

Bowing to public pressure, the Chinese municipality of Chongqing revised regulations requiring private at-home Internet users to register by October 30, according to a local newspaper [Coverage at Sina.com here].

The revisions, announced today in the Chongqing Evening Post, specify that: “Those requiring registration at the Public Security Bureau are limited to Internet companies (互联单位), corporate users (接入单位) and information service companies (信息服务单位). [Individual] users are not required to go through these procedures”.

The original regulations, made public on July 7, prompted criticism from media and online chatrooms. Many Chinese, including those outside Chongqing, felt the regulations went too far, infringing on personal freedoms. “So is everyone who goes online a criminal?” asked one netizen responding on Sina.com shortly after the regulations were announced. “Do they think that by [requiring] registration they can control criminal online behavior? … Those who made this policy should study those portions of the Constitution dealing with the people’s basic rights. So can you trample on people’s basic rights just to control criminal behavior?”

One month after local officials made the announcement, national media continued to debate the issue. Caijing, a leading Chinese business magazine, said in an August 7 editorial directly addressing the Chongqing policy that the Internet is an important tool for citizen participation in debates over public policy. The editorial called apathetic citizens the “greatest enemies of freedom”.

Coverage of the revised regulations in today’s Chongqing Evening Post said the July announcement had brought “widespread attention from city residents”.

A few postings from Sina.com concerning the revisions follow:

I don’t know which person in a high place it was who thought of this rotten idea. But recognizing the error of it and making changes, that’s a very good thing.

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From the time these regulations came out you could see the level of Chongqing city leaders — primary school graduates.

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This really is the pride of the people of Chongqing. I’m so happy.

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You don’t have to drop your pants to fart.

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Do you have to register to crawl into bed in Chongqing? Well then, everyone should just avoid the place.

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To put it softly, whoever thought of having people going online in their homes heading to the Public Security Bureau to register wasn’t right in the head! But seriously, this impacts the international perception of China. They can see how far we are from a political culture of governing by established principles.

[Posted by David Bandurski, September 27, 2006, 11:55am]

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