The Chinese government will oblige tech companies to keep a record of the identities of people posting comments online, in an extension of this summer’s crackdown on internet speech. Under the new regulations announced on Friday, all message board providers must authenticate users’ identities from October 1, the Financial Times reports. Commentators say that the ramping-up of restrictions on online speech are directed at controlling criticism or mockery of the country’s leadership ahead of the Communist party’s 19th national congress later this year. Last month, tech company censors tried to stop a long-running joke comparing President Xi Jinping with Winnie-the-Pooh by banning mentions of the fictional bear on social media. Regulators have previously asked internet service providers to authenticate users’ identities, but this has not been implemented. But the new regulations are being implemented under the aegis of China’s first cyber security law, which came into force in June and gives regulators the power to punish tech companies that disobey.
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