Real-name system needed for Internet’s development

Source:Global Times Published: 2017/8/28 22:13:39

The Internet real-name authentication management, the so-called real-name system, was implemented several years ago despite the opposing voices of some online activists.

Recently it has been required that Internet users who make online follow-up comments need to  go through real-name authentication, which has caused a new wave of discussion. Overseas media outlets have joined the opposition group and claimed that real-name authentication hurts freedom of expression online.

It is true that less online management means more freedom. However, no country can tolerate zero management for the Internet. In fact, real-name authentication has been adopted in more and more countries, and it has been accepted by an increasing number of Chinese people. Nowadays, the Internet has penetrated into people's daily lives. This means real-name authentication is necessary.

Expressing opinions online is a small part of Internet activity. For most people, it does not form a barrier in expressing their opinions if real-name authentication is required.

Real-name authentication does, to some extent, weaken the vitality of online speech. But the influence is usually on those who only temporarily participate in online speech. Those who actively participate in online discussions are unlikely to be affected.

The most influential online opinion leaders have already done real-name authentication. Although they may use other names online, people know who they really are. For them, real names are the basis for gaining influence. People who would feel affected most will be those that express extreme views online, or those who intend to spread rumors online and create disturbances.

When online real-name authentication was first implemented, it was described as real-name usage. The description gives the impression of tightening public opinion. It is true that online public opinion management has been strengthened a lot. However, this kind of strengthening is in line with how China promotes governance according to the rule of law.

China needs an orderly Internet, including an orderly public opinion field on the Internet. Otherwise, the Internet may become a source of turmoil in Chinese society, and it won't have healthy development itself. On the other hand, the robust development of the Internet has to be based on certain degree of freedom.

Neither a disorderly Internet nor a lifeless Internet is in line with the long-term interests of Chinese society. The online public opinion field needs guidance, just as the spirit of the Chinese Constitution does in real life. It cannot become a place full of anti-Constitutional opinion. Moreover, the Internet needs sufficient expression space.

With rapid changes of technology, it is impossible to completely control the Internet. Therefore, that should not be the goal of the Chinese government or the concern of the public. The development and management of the Chinese Internet will be an interactive process of maximizing society's benefits.

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