China toughens Internet rules

China has issued new restrictions on Internet use, requiring those wanting to set up a website to meet regulators and provide identity documents, in a move slammed Wednesday by one rights group. The new rules come as the United States has stepped up pressure on Beijing to break down its vast system of web controls – the so-called “Great Firewall of China” – for the more than 380 million people now online in the country. Washington issued those calls after US Internet giant Google said last month it was considering pulling out of China over cyberattacks and Chinese government censorship of its search results. China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology issued the new guidelines to local authorities on February 8 and lifted a ban imposed in December on individuals acquiring .cn domain names, state media said Tuesday. Individuals wanting to set up a website will have to submit identity cards and photos of themselves, as well as meet regulators, before their domain name can be registered, the reports said. It was not immediately clear if the new restrictions were now in use.

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