IP and Law

Mr. Sun, I'll need to see some ID

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An article in yesterday's Liaoning Legal News asked whether the "real-name systems" that government regulatory agencies want to implement for mobile phones, blogs, and train tickets have any legal basis.

The core of the report's analysis said that documentation is only required in a limited set of circumstances:

In Article 14 of the Law on ID Cards that went into effect on 1 January, 2004, citizens must display their resident documentation under the following circumstances: (1) when their residential hukou registration changes; (2) when they register for the army; (3) when they register for marriage or adoption; (4) when they file to go abroad; (5) under any circumstances for which laws or administrative statutes require citizens to show their ID.

In other words, local laws, rules enacted by departments under the State Council, and regulations set up by local governments do not have the legal power to compel people to present ID. National laws do have that power, which is why ID may be demanded when doing things like placing something up for auction, registering as a lawyer, staying at a hotel, and making purchases online.

Of the real-name systems that have been proposed recently, relevant national laws are only in place for the banking system; real-name systems for mobile phones, online games, blogs, and other areas do not have that legal basis.

The article recommends passing new laws to make real-name systems possible, with a lawyer quoted to the effect that well-behaved citizens should have no worries about their privacy being violated. Reporter Wang Qi mused on this in a follow-up commentary:

If you chose the hottest terms of the past few years, "real-name system" would definitely be among them. Starting with the real-name system for bank deposits, the mobile phone real-name system, car registration real-name system, blog real-name system, train ticket real-name system...one after another they have crashed into the lives of common people.

Today, there is considerable debate about whether to implement real-name systems, and some people have voiced substantial criticisms. Who's upset by the real-name system?

In fact, the real-name system is nothing new. In the Song Dynasty, a man named Wu Song ran off to Governor Zhang's jail to visit his sweetheart. He drank himself into a righteous passion and knifed his enemies in the hall, and before he left he wrote on the wall, "The killer is the Tiger-beating Wu Song". Amid danger, he did not forget the real-name system. Later, Wu Song entered a social organization known as Mt. Liang, and here the real-name system was even more actively promoted. At the scene of every crime they had to shout, "the men of Mt. Liang have arrived!"

However, there were still some people back then who did not a whit for the rules of the real-name system. Emperor Huizong of the Song was one of them. Every time he went to unhealthy venues for trysts with Li Shishi, he did not respect the rules requiring him to register using his ID and real name. Lame.

One more example: in Journey to the West, every time Sun Wukong gets ready to smite monsters, he declares his identity: "I am the Great Sage Equaling Heaven who created havoc five hundred years ago, Sun Wukong!" Even though he adds his chosen ID "Great Sage Equaling Heaven" to the front, he's still using his real name. In striking contrast are the actions of those monsters, who'll only tell you what kind of creature they are "over my dead body!"

Real names are like an ethical test paper; people who are uncomfortable about them know why. After reading this non-critique, some people may take issue with me, but remember, you must use your real name when you criticize me!

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There are currently 2 Comments for Mr. Sun, I'll need to see some ID.

Comments on Mr. Sun, I'll need to see some ID

Confucius said:" Yours words won't be trustworthy unless your status is identified."(名不正则言不顺)I tink that's why the "heros" in Ancient China took pride in speaking out lout their names. But the difference is that people now are asked to provide their IDs instead of willing to do that. So considering all people's freedom(no matter he/she is willing to provide a real name), the real name systems are better reduced.

The question isn't about your trustworthiness, it's about how the government will punish for speaking up in regards to their censorship.

Nobody will be willing to face prison to report a crime or even an abuse of the system. Ask yourself how many crimes go unreported in China regarding the abuse of local officials?

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