If you use any of China’s online services and you’ve got a cheeky username, we’ve got some bad news for you: judgement day is drawing nigh. Starting on Sunday March 1, government regulations banning the use of certain kinds of nicknames online in China will go into effect, and Chinese tech companies will be forced to crack down.
Wondering if your username will be affected? Here’s what’s banned under the new rules:
– Usernames impersonating or satirizing public figures (no more usernames with “Obama” or “Putin” in them, for example)
– Usernames that harm national security, reveal state secrets, subvert government authority, or harm national unity.
– Usernames that incite ethnic/racial hatred, discriminate against an ethnicity, or harm national ethnic unity
– Usernames that promote/disseminate vulgarity, pornography, gambling, violence, or assassination.
Users whose accounts have offending usernames will be given a limited time to change their names. If they don’t, the accounts will be closed permanently.
Although it might sound like these regulations won’t affect many people, a spokesman from China’s State Internet Office has said that the problem is widespread and “increasingly serious.” The goal of the regulations is, according to State Internet Office deputy director Peng Bo, to create an internet where “seeing other people’s usernames is not disgusting or chaotic and is comfortable.”
Of course, how effectively the new regulations will be enforced remains to be seen. It would certainly seem to be a death knell for satirical and parody accounts of various government officials, but enforcement could end up being pretty lax, as it was for real-name registration. Read more…