China’s leading search engine Baidu on Thursday required users of the company’s services, including popular online forum Baidu Tieba and cloud storage service, to register their real identities before June, otherwise they may be prevented from accessing the services.
Baidu said in a statement that the requirement was in accordance with China’s Cyberspace Law, which stipulates that an Internet operator should require its users to provide real identities before publishing content and using instant messaging. The law will take effect on June 1.
Based on the requirement, Internet users should access the services with registered cell phone numbers. One telephone number could be used to verify several accounts so that the users do not need to delete their back-up accounts.
Wang Sixin, a professor specializing in media law and regulations at the Communication University of China, viewed the move as the latest effort by the cyberspace authorities in tightening regulation of online platforms. “The purpose is not to control Internet users, but to better regulate Internet operators to manage online information,” said Wang.