Page last updated at 12:32 GMT, Tuesday, 23 February 2010

China tightens internet controls

A Beijing office worker surfs the internet
China has the world's biggest online population: more than 380m users

China has tightened controls on internet use, requiring anyone who wants to set up a website to meet regulators and produce ID documents.

The technology ministry said the measures were designed to tackle online pornography, but internet activists see it as increased government censorship.

A number of websites are now being registered overseas in an attempt to avoid controls.

China has the world's biggest online population: more than 380m users.

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology on Tuesday lifted a freeze introduced in December on registration for new individual websites.

Extensive censorship

But the technology ministry said would-be website operators would now have to submit identity cards and photos of themselves, as well as meeting regulators before their sites could be registered.

The freeze had been imposed by the state-sanctioned group which registers domain names, after complaints by state media that not enough was being done to screen websites for pornography.

The BBC's Quentin Sommerville in Beijing says that despite extensive censorship, the internet remains a surprisingly vibrant and critical environment in China.

Internet users have used it to highlight cases of injustice or to embarrass corrupt officials.

China's web users often manage to stay one step ahead of government controls, says our correspondent.

The Chinese authorities have launched a number of campaigns against online pornography, with the government saying thousands of people were detained last year alone.

Print Sponsor

China denies school-based hacks
23 Feb 10 |  Technology
US 'closes in on Google hackers'
22 Feb 10 |  Technology
China shuts down hacking website
08 Feb 10 |  Asia-Pacific
China denies Google cyber attacks
24 Jan 10 |  Americas
China's web users debate internet freedom
22 Jan 10 |  Asia-Pacific
China rebuffs US internet demands
22 Jan 10 |  Asia-Pacific

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific