The blogger's self-discipline pledge

The Internet Society of China is soliciting public opinions about its draft "Blog Service Self-discipline Public Pledge," which sets forth the framework for making a civilized blogosphere. The provisions apply to Internet blog service providers (BSP) within China's borders.

The draft calls for BSPs and bloggers to enter into a service agreement. The agreement would require bloggers to guarantee that they won't issue or distribute "pornographic or obscene information," "information that is insulting or derogatory to ethnic, racial or religious groups or to cultural traditions," or slander. Bloggers would further have to agree not to distribute computer viruses and to abide by IPR laws. In addition, bloggers would have to manage and supervise the comments to their blogs, removing illegal comments in a timely manner.

The draft also encourages — but does not require — BSPs to implement a "real name" registration system and to establish a "real name blog" section of their websites, where "real name" bloggers can receive top-quality service and have their blogs recommended as "outstanding products." "Real name" bloggers have to provide their full names, an identifying "number" (e.g., national ID number, military officer number, passport number), and contact information (like a phone number or mailbox). This information need only be disclosed to the BSP; onscreen, "real name" bloggers may remain anonymous or use a pen- or nickname. The BSPs have to develop systems for safeguarding the data provided by "real name" bloggers and cannot disclose that information publicly or to third parties without the user's permission — except as provided by law.

While the draft doesn't break new ground in the realm of Internet regulation, it is significant for two reasons. First, the Chinese government appears to have abandoned mandatory real name registration — at least for the time being — and is offering this Public Pledge as an alternative. Second, that the Internet Society of China is soliciting public opinion on the draft is a positive development. Both points suggest that the Chinese government is sensitive to public opinion and seeking to tread carefully around this issue. If true, this would represent a welcome shift in governance style.

If you want to comment on the Public Pledge, e-mail before May 28.

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There are currently 1 Comments for The blogger's self-discipline pledge.

Comments on The blogger's self-discipline pledge

Why the short time span (two days) to allow for public input on the pledge?

Unfortunately, I read this on May 29th.

Is reporting the stoning of a Yazidi teen ("honor killing" in Iraq) considered derogatory or insulting to that religious group? If I report it factually with no judgmental comments, then perhaps it is not derogatory or insulting.

Thus, controversial news can be reported, but no dialogue or group discussion can ensue. The forum might lead to further understanding, as long as it doesn't become a channel or devolve into a foul trowel, flaming flares, or mud-slinging.

Perhaps the pledge should emphasize accurate reporting, acceptance of a plenitude of opinions, a balance between emotion and rationalism, a flame counting and an advisory early warning system (?) (rotating system of moderators?), ...

Definitely, the real name blogging system and reward system for excellent blogs is a good system, although they should define on what basis they rate a blog as excellent or not.

You reap what you sow. Excellence can spread; prejudice die out.

Let's make the internet a fruitful forum for exchange of ideas, information, opinions -- with guidelines that aim to retain a certain level of decorum and mutual respect, even for those people whose identity we know not but who may appear seemingly out of nowhere with weighty words and hefty hype.

It would appear to be a step towards making a kind of voluntary parliamentary procedure for online forums and news-posting.

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