China issued new rules on instant messaging chat groups on Thursday, tightening control over online discussions ahead of a sensitive leadership reshuffle next month, the South China Morning Post reports. Internet chat service providers must now verify the identities of their users and keep a blog of group chats for no less than six months, the Cyberspace Administration said on its website. The rules, which take effect on October 8, just before the congress is due to begin, will cover platforms provided by China’s internet titans, such as Tencent’s WeChat and QQ, Baidu’s Tieba and Alibaba’s Alipay chat. The regulations also required companies to establish a credit system, and to provide group chat services to users in accordance to their credit rating, the administration said. It said chat group participants who broke the rules would have their credit scores lowered, have their rights to manage group chats suspended or revoked and should be reported to the relevant government department.
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