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Last Updated: Thursday, 30 November 2006, 15:05 GMT
China may make bloggers give ID

Internet cafe in Beijing - 2005
China's communist government is wary of the internet
China is considering forcing internet users to provide their real names and ID card numbers when opening a blog.

Advocates of the idea argue that blog anonymity has encouraged widespread libel and slander.

Opponents say blogging is flourishing for the very reason that people are free to express themselves.

China has one of the most repressive internet regimes in the world, censoring content and imprisoning some people for what they put on the web.

Under the proposed scheme, bloggers will still be free to write under pseudonyms. Their identity would remain protected as long as they did "nothing illegal or harmful to the public", officials said.

The debate over whether a real name system should be adopted was ignited by a recent report by the Internet Society of China, which regulates online activities.

For many of China's 120 million internet user, the internet is the only venue where they can express themselves freely.

There are worries that the proposed real name online system would limit freedom of expression.

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