There’s been hardly a peep about the proposed real-name registration system for the Web in China since the chairman of the Internet Society of China, charged with creating the system, stepped out on November 28 to calm fears such a system would violate personal privacy. Officials have said the system is necessary to enforce “responsible” Web use in China and combat such behavior as online character attacks and fraud.
But a ripple of recent reports about new “ID generation” software in China suggests Web users might be finding ways around the real-name system even before it’s been rolled out.
The so-called “personal ID generation tool” (身份证生成器) software, available online for more than a year now, has become one of the hottest downloads on the Chinese Internet in recent months, according to Chinese media reports. The tool enables Web users to generate personal IDs that allow them to bypass real-name registration fields.
The tool is currently being used by online game players who either do not wish to offer up their personal information or are under the legal age required for certain games. But experts have said, according to Guangzhou’s Yangcheng Evening News, that the software could pose a major challenge to a broader real-name registration system for the Chinese Internet, the kind of system the ISC is in the process of creating.
Mr. Huang, an expert at a Hebei-based technology firm, told the Yangcheng Evening News ID generation tools were being downloaded at record rates because users were concerned about personal privacy as the practice of requiring one’s personal ID number became more and more widespread in China.
In a news story posted on China Central Television’s international Website, a reporter watched an online forum as a user with the alias “Minnow” posted the request: “I want to register an account to play online games. Who can loan me an ID number?” Within five minutes a user with the alias “Master-Hand” had posted a link to a site where “Minnow” could download a personal ID generation tool. Speaking with the reporter via the forum, “Minnow” said he was 14 years old and wanted to play online games against the wishes of his parents, whose ID’s (and supervision) would ordinarily be required for online games.
According to Chinese authorities, the use of personal ID generation tools constitutes forgery and is punishable by law, with fines of between 200 and 1,000 yuan and up to 10 days detention, Yangcheng Evening News reported.
“‘Personal ID Generation Tool’ Becomes Hot Download, Challenges ‘Real-Name System‘”, ChinaNews.com.cn
“Appearance of Personal ID Generation Tool Means Real-Name System Serves Practically No Function“, CCTV.com
[Posted by David Bandurski, January 5, 2007, 12:25pm]