Saturday, August 23, 2014

On 110th Anniversary of Deng Xiaoping's Birth, Sina Weibo Censors "Deng Xiaoping Tanks"

The screenshots above were taken on August 22, 2014, and show that Sina Weibo did not censor searches for "Deng Xiaoping" (邓小平) or "Tanks" (坦克), but did censor searches for "Deng Xiaoping Tanks."  (邓小平 坦克)

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Global Times: Gao Zhisheng's "Name Is Blocked On the Web." Meanwhile, Baidu Stops Showing Censorship Notice for Searches for "Gao Zhisheng"

On August 8, 2014, the state sponsored Global Times published an editorial under the name “Shan Renping” (单仁平) entitled “Human Rights Lawyers Not Above the Law” (in Chinese: “Why Is the West All Hot Over a Released ‘Rights Defense Lawyer’” (西方为何热捧获释的“维权律师”)). Some excerpts from the English version:
According to some foreign media reports, Gao Zhisheng, a lawyer who was put into prison three years ago on the charge of inciting subversion of State power, was released on Thursday. He made headlines in Western media very quickly, becoming another prominent Chinese dissident.
. . . .
Gao is not well-known among the Chinese public, and there is little information about him on the Chinese Internet.
The Chinese version of the editorial put the preceding sentence somewhat differently, stating “Because Gao Zhisheng is not well known in Chinese society and his name is blocked on the web, there is very little public information about him.” (由于高智晟在中国社会的知名度不大,他的名字在网上被屏蔽,可以找到有关他的公开材料很少。).

This screenshot was taken on August 15, 2014, and shows an article written by Gao published on the Ministry of Justice’s website in 2003 entitled “The Heavy Responsibility of a New Lawyer” (初为律师责任之重)

Most major Internet companies in China censor searches for Gao Zhisheng’s name. For example, here are screenshots showing search results from August 8, 2014:

Qihoo returns no results, and tells users “Search results may not comply with relevant laws, regulations, and policies, and have not been displayed” (搜索结果可能不符合相关法律法规和政策,未予显示。).

Sina and Tencent tell users of their Weibo microblogging platforms “In accordance with relevant laws, regulations, and policies, search results for ‘Gao Zhisheng have not been displayed” (根据相关法律法规和政策,“高智晟”搜索结果未予显示。 ) and “In accordance with relevant laws, regulations, and policies, search results have not been displayed” (根据相关法律法规和政策,搜索结果未予显示。), respectively.

Chinaso, a search engine established by a consortium of major PRC state run media outlets including the People’s Daily and Xinhua, returns six results from several major PRC state run media outlets, and informs users “In accordance with relevant laws, regulations, and policies, some search results have not been displayed” (根据相关法律法规和政策,部分搜索结果未予显示。).

Sogou returns over 50 results from websites licensed to operate in the PRC, and tells users “In accordance with relevant laws, regulations, and policies, some search results have not been displayed” (根据相关法律法规和政策,部分搜索结果未予显示。).

Baidu returns no search results, and tells users “Apologies, unable to find any relevant web pages” (抱歉,没有找到与“高智晟”相关的网页). This represents a change from Baidu’s prior policy of providing an explicit notice that no search results can be displayed because they may violate the law (as Qihoo continues to do).

This screenshot, also taken on August 8, shows that, while Baidu claims it is unable to find any search results for “Gao Zhisheng,” Bing is able to find several results on Baidu’s own web pages that contain Gao’s name.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

China’s Real Name Internet Part 5: 2013 - 2014

The propaganda campaign launched in late 2012 coincided with the release of new regulations requiring micro-blogging platforms such as Sina Weibo to impose real name registration requirements on their users. On December 19, 2012, China's official new agency Xinhua published a report entitled "Punish Online Criminals, Strengthen the Protection and Administration of the Internet in Accordance with the Law" (惩治网络违法犯罪 依法加强网络信息保护和管理). That report stated that on December 24 the National People's Congress Standing Committee would be considering a draft "Decision Regarding Strengthening Network Information Protection." (关于加强网络信息保护的决定)

On December 29, 2012, the People's Daily published an editorial on its front page entitled "Safeguard the Healthy and Orderly Operation of the Internet in Accordance with the Law" (依法保障网络健康有序运行).  The editorial stated that the National People's Congress Standing Committee had enacted the "Decision," which was effectively a law (Chinese and English versions of the Decision are available here -

Article 6 of the Decision read:
When entering into agreements or confirming the provision of services with users, network service providers who provide users network connection services, conduct network access procedures for fixed and mobile telephones, or who provide users with information issuing services shall require users to provide truthful identity information.
Over a year later, in March 2014, Sina would state in an F1 IPO filing with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission: “We are required to verify the identities of all of our users who post on Weibo, but have not been able to do so, and our noncompliance exposes us to potentially severe penalty by the Chinese government.” It went on to say:
Microblogging service providers are required to verify the identities of their users. In addition, microblogging service providers based in Beijing were required to verify the identities of all of their users by March 16, 2012, including existing users who post publicly on their websites [Relevant Regulation]. The user identity verification requirements have deterred new users from completing their registrations on Weibo, and a significant portion of the registrations in which user identity information was provided were rejected because they do not match the Chinese government database.
We have made significant efforts to comply with the user verification requirements. However, for reasons including existing user behaviors, the nature of the microblogging product and the lack of clarity on specific implementation procedures, we have not been able to verify the identities of all of the users who post content publicly on Weibo.
Sina's F1 is available here:

In April 2013, the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film, and Television issued the "Notification Regarding Strengthening the Management of the Online Activities of News Editorial Personnel" (关于加强新闻采编人员网络活动管理的通知).  That notice included the following provisions:

  • News editorial personnel shall insist upon a Marxist view of the news, and shall insist upon encouraging unified stability and positive propaganda as their primary orientation.  (新闻采编人员要坚持马克思主义新闻观,坚持团结稳定鼓劲、正面宣传为主的方针。)
  • No news agencies may utilize overseas media, overseas web sites, or news information products without authorization. (未经批准, 各类新闻单位均不得擅自使用境外媒体、境外网站的新闻信息产品。)
  • Any news agency that establishes an official micro-blog must register with its sponsoring government agency. (新闻单位设立官方微博,须向其主管单位备案。)
  • Information obtained through professional activities may not be disseminated without authorization. (未经批准不得发布通过职务活动获得的各种信息。)
  • News editorial personnel may not disseminate false information on the Internet, and may not publish on any domestic or overseas web site any news information obtained through their professional news gathering without their news agencies examination, verification, and approval. (新闻采编人员不得在网络上发布虚假信息,未经所在新闻机构审核同意不得将职务采访获得的新闻信息刊发在境内外网站上。)
On August 13, 2013, a Sichuan government web site publishes an article entitled "The Seven Bottom Lines That Every Internet User Should Observe" (七条底线,全体网民应该共守).  According to that article, well-known online personalities had gathered at CCTV's headquarters in Beijing on August 10 and reached an agreement that are seven bottom lines that they would observe:
  1. Laws and Regulations
  2. Socialist System
  3. National Interest
  4. Citizens' Legal Rights and Interests
  5. Social Order
  6. Moral Norms
  7. Factual Information
Although it was listed third, the article stated:
The National Interest is to be placed above all others, because without the nation we have nothing. That is the way of the physical world, and even more so in the online world. We must forge an online patriotic culture, with the soul of online culture resting on the national interest.
Regarding the socialist system, the article said:
This is our fundamental institution, this is a bottom line we cannot neglect, whether in real life on the Internet, we eat and live socialism. We cannot undermine ourselves.
Regarding factual information, the article said:
Currently, fake news and false information is flooding the Internet, and this represents a failure to implement the bottom line of factual information. Every one of us Internet users has a responsibility to uphold the bottom line of truth, and to discriminate between true and false, and not fabricate or spread false information. Information in the virtual world cannot be fictional.
On March 28, 2014, the General Office of the State Council (国务院办公厅) issued the “Notice Regarding Duty Assignments in Implementing the ‘State Council Program for Structural Reform and Functional Reassignment.’” (关于实施《国务院机构改革和职能转变方案》任务分工的通知)  Article 2(13) of which listed the following as a “Duty to be Completed in 2014”:
Issue and implement a real name registration system for information networks. (Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, State Internet Information Office, and the Ministry of Public Security to be jointly responsible. To be completed before the end of June 2014)
出台并实施信息网络实名登记制度。 (工业和信息化部、国家互联网信息办公室会同公安部负责。2014年6月底前完成)
On June 14, 2014, the State Council issued the Social Credibility System Construction Program (2014—2020)(社会信用体系建设规划纲要(2014—2020年)). The Program stated:
Building Credibility in the Internet Usage and Service Domain. Vigorously promote  building sincerity and honesty on the Internet, cultivate the idea of operating websites in accordance with the law, and using the Internet sincerely and honestly. Gradually implement a real name system for the Internet, improve Internet credibility and build legal safeguards, and vigorously promote the construction of Internet credibility oversight mechanisms. Establish Internet credibility evaluation systems, conduct evaluations of the credibility of companies engaged in the operation of Internet services and the online activities of personnel who go online, maintain credibility rankings. Establish Internet credibility files covering Internet enterprises and individuals who go online, actively promote the establishment of mechanisms for the exchange and sharing of credibility information between the Internet and social domains, and vigorously promote the widespread use of Internet credibility information in all aspects of society. Establish an Internet credibility blacklisting system, and add to the blacklist those enterprises and individuals whose Internet activities are seriously untrustworthy, such as engaging in Internet fraud, fabricating and spreading rumors, and infringing on the legal rights and interests of others. Restrict the online activities of individuals and ban enterprises from going online once they are placed on the blacklist, and notify relevant government agencies and conduct public exposes of them.
On July 23, 2014, the Chinese government's website invited Ping Zhongsheng (冯中圣), deputy director of the Finance Office of the National Development and Reform Commission to speak about the Program. In an article entitled Gradually Implement Internet Real Name Systems and Other Measures to Build Online Credibility (通过逐步落实网络实名制等措施加强网上诚信建设) the website quoted Ping as saying:
Not long ago, the NDRC and the State Internet Information Office convened a joint forum on building Internet credibility. During the meeting it was noted that it was necessary for major websites to set the example and lead the way, propagandize and guide, and provide proactive supervision, and to put forth effort in six areas to build website credibility: 
1. Establish web pages and web sites dedicated to credibility.
2. Explore establishing Internet credibility records.
3. Innovate and develop in the area of credibility evaluation.
4. Jointly implement methods to encourage complying with commitments.
5. Jointly implement methods of punishing failure to comply with commitments.
6. Actively promote the building of a culture of credibility.
The following month, on August 7, 2014, the State Internet Information Office issued the “Interim Rules on the Development and Administration of Instant Messaging Tools and Public Information Services” (即时通信工具公众信息服务发展管理暂行规定).  The Rules applied to anyone “employing instant messaging tools as public information services,” and included the following provisions:
  • Providers of instant messaging tool services must require their users to:
    • register using their actual identity information; and
    • enter into an agreement whereby they commit to abide by the "seven bottom lines.”
  • In addition, providers of instant messaging tool services must:
    • verify the identity of anyone applying to operate an account that allows them to post information to the general public (as opposed to a private group of designated users); and
    • register anyone they approve to operate public accounts with “a government agency responsible for Internet information content.”
  • Finally, the rules provide that only government licensed “Internet News Information Services” may use their public accounts to post or repost “news relating to current events or politics.” All other public accounts are prohibited from publishing or republishing current events and political news unless otherwise authorized.
According to the “Rules on the Administration of Internet News Services” (互联网新闻信息服务管理规定) issued jointly by the State Council and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology in 2005, “news relating to current events or politics” (时政类新闻) is defined as including "reports and commentaries related to political, economic, military and diplomatic affairs as well as breaking events" (有关政治、经济、军事、外交等社会公共事务的报道、评论,以及有关社会突发事件的报道、评论).

Saturday, August 16, 2014

China's Real Name Internet Part 4: State Media's Version of Global Internet Governance

One common theme in the People's Daily editorials was that, when it comes to Internet regulation, "everyone does it" - at least three front page editorials explicitly discussed Internet regulation in other countries. In addition, during this period, the People's Daily published a series of reports entitled "Every Country Oversees and Manages the Internet in Accordance with Law - A Comprehensive Analysis" (各国依法监管互联网面面观). Countries covered included:
Other than an obscure reference to an "indirect real name system" in Japan, however, the People's Daily's discussion of how other countries have addressed the concept of a real name Internet consisted solely of the following:

The fundamental value of the practice of "self-discipline" rests in promoting free expression and free flow of information on the Internet, and encouraging forms of dispute resolution with respect to controversial and assaulting online information. The idea of Canada implementing laws for online real name systems is to require the Internet industry to implement strict self-discipline.
Besides this, many government officials, including Mexican President Nieto, have already initiated discussions with ordinary Internet users about real name accounts for social web sites, guiding the public to set up a civilized online atmosphere. Currently some Mexican Senators and academics are strongly suggesting that the government should start moving social web sites to a real name system.
United States
In fact, in the United States, widely known for "freedom of speech," there exists calls from the public to implement a real name Internet system. Nowadays more and more mainstream media web sites are requiring Internet users to register before they can leave comments. In 2010, the gaming web site "Blizzard" began requiring users to use their real names to post on their forum.
. . . .
In addition to pleas by the public, the American government is also considering a plan for "online ID." In early 2011, the Obama administration proposed establishing a digital identification verification system, enabling American Internet users to send emails, register on social web sites, and conduct online purchases without having to input their user names and passwords, reducing the incidence of online crime, and increasing people's security while online.
. . . .
South Korea

In the past China's state-run media had turned to South Korea to build its argument that that China's Internet users should accept a real name Internet. For example, on August 13, 2009, the Guangming Daily published an editorial entitled "The Time is Ripe to Implement an Internet Real Name System" (实行网络实名制时机已经成熟). An excerpt:
Fang Binxing offered an example saying, in 2002 South Korea launched an Internet real name system in order to protect citizens' rights, reputations, and economic interests, and this allowed South Korea to become both one of the world's countries with the most thorough real name systems as well as one of the world's countries with the highest level of Internet security. More than that, the Internet real name system promoted the rapid development of South Korea's online banking and online commerce, and attracted a large amount of investment in online enterprises, further driving constant improvements in South Korea's online enterprises. Fang Binxing believes that this gives China excellent experience and an effective example of how to implement its own Internet real name system.
More recently, in December 2011, the Global Times published an editorial entitled "Weibo Regulations a Step on the Right Path." An excerpt:
The new regulations, in theory, are pertinent to solving weibo's urgent problems without harming its good effects. South Korea has already ordered real-name registration for the Internet.
 That same month, Xinhua also sought to reassure readers that this was "Common Practice":
China is not the only country to resort to real-name registration to monitor the Internet. The government of the Republic of Korea started to implement a real-name authentication system on its major websites in 2007 to prevent Internet violence, fraud or malicious information spreading.
In 2009, the system was expanded to cover all websites with daily visits of over 100,000.
But in the year after those editorials were written, the Constitutional Court of South Korea issued its decision in the application of Sohn et. al. unanimously holding that Korea's Internet real name systems were unconstitutional because "they infringe upon freedom of expression and autonomous control of personal data."

On August 24, 2012, the day after the South Korean court issued its decision, Xinhua and the China Daily published an editorial entitled "No Need to Be Overly Concerned About Korea Abolishing Its Real Name System" (不必对韩国取消实名制过分惊诧) by Wu Dingping (吴定平). That editorial stated that South Korea's system had been China's "reference model." It went on to say:
Why did Korea's love affair with its real name system come to an end? Fundamentally, there were no actual problems with the real name system, rather the main issue was that Korea had insufficient protections for personal privacy, and this led to significant pressure on, and resistance to, the real name system, and led ultimately to a fatal attack on it. Comparatively speaking, China has done a better job in this area.

On January 2, 2013, Xinhua published an editorial under the name "Shi Yi" (石一). Baidu's Baike has an entry for someone with that name - the CEO of Avazu Inc. - but its not clear whether thas person was in fact the editorial's author. The editorial was entitled "Users Registering With True Identification Information is Not the Same as South Korea's Real Name System" (用户真实身份信息注册与韩国实名制并非一回事). Some excerpts:
In order to safeguard the security of personal information, the Decision requires: "When entering into agreements or confirming the provision of services with users, network service providers who provide users network connection services, conduct network access procedures for fixed and mobile telephones, or who provide users with information issuing services shall require users to provide truthful identity information." The purpose of this legislative provision is to safeguard users' online information from being disclosed, falsified, or misused. However, some Internet users have compared it with South Korea's "online real name system," and believe that China should take as a warning the fact that "South Korea's online real name system has already failed." This author believes that this mischaracterizes and misunderstands the Decision, and that China's user real ID information registration information system has some fundamental differences with South Korea's "online real name system."
The editorial went on to discuss three problems experienced by South Korea's systems, and how China will avoid them:
  • In South Korea web sites were allowed to retain user's information, but in China "When a user is asked by a web site to carry out identification verification, the web site will redirect to a page on the verification agency's web site. The personal information that the user submits will be verified on the Internet ID verification platform, and not through the registering web site."
  • In South Korea the verification agency was a commercial organization, and laws and policies were perfunctorily enforced. In China, "the Internet Society of China will establish a unified Internet real ID information verification platform . . . . the Internet Society of China is non-profit industry organization, and is under the responsibility of the MIIT, and is subject to more oversight and management."
  • In South Korea the verification agency charged fees, and this influenced web sites' "enthusiasm." In China, web sites will not be charged fees.
The editorial went on to say: "It was precisely because of these systemic design inadequacies that Internet users' private information security could not be effectively guaranteed, and this was the basic reason why South Korea's 'online real name system' failed."

The editorial made no mention of the South Korean Constitutional Court August decision regarding South Korea's real name system, or that the explicitly said it was NOT going to rule on the privacy issue. The Court's decision stated:
Applicant Sohn et al. further assert that the mandatory verification of user identity restricts bulletin board user’s right to privacy as it obliges the user to disclose the personal data such as name,resident’s registration number, etc. However, we have already explained that the mandatory verification of user identity restricts user’s right to autonomous control of personal data, which is a concrete manifestation of the right to privacy. As we shall decide whether the restriction of user’s right to autonomous control of personal data amounts to infringement, there is no need for us to rule upon the alleged infringement of the right to privacy.
Instead, the Court said that "the focal issues of this case are whether the restrictions imposed by the mandatory verification of user identity are disproportionate and excessive."

Ultimately, the South Korean Constitutional Court found as follows:
We find that the mandatory verification of user identity stipulated in the provisions under review operates as prior restriction of freedom of expression. It discourages expression in general and thus restrains constitutionally protected speech and it hampers free formation of public opinion which is at the heart of democracy. The provisions under review impose excessive restrictions and infringe upon freedom of expression and autonomous control of personal data of Applicant Sohn et al. and upon freedom of press, etc. of Applicant Company.
An English translation of the Korean Court's decision by Professor Keechang Kim, Korea University Law School is available here:

Friday, August 15, 2014

China's Real Name Internet Part 3: The People's Daily's 10 Days of Front Page Editorials

By far the most prolific publisher of pro-real name regulation propaganda was the People's Daily. In the last two weeks of December that paper published at least ten editorials on its front page espousing the need for new Internet regulations:
  • December 18: "The Internet Is Not Beyond the Law" (网络不是法外之地)
  • December 20: "The Internet Needs to Operate in Accordance with the Law" (网络需要依法运行)
  • December 22: "Internet Development Needs to be 'Grabbed with Two Hands'" (网络发展需要"两手抓")
  • December 23: "There Can Be Health Only Where There is a Bottom Line." (有底线,才健康)
  • December 24: "Words and Deeds on the Internet Should Comply with the Law's Bottom Line" (网络言行应遵循法律底线)
  • December 25: "Further the Internet's 'Positive Forces' Through Rule by Law" (以法治涵养网络"正能量")
  • December 26: "Virtual Spaces Can't Get Away From 'Real World Rules'" (虚拟空间离不开"现实规则")
  • December 28: "Open Platforms Cannot Exist Without 'Legal Boundaries'" (开放平台不能没有"合法边界")
  • December 29: "Safeguard the Healthy and Orderly Operation of the Internet in Accordance with the Law" (依法保障网络健康有序运行)
  • December 30: "Only by Moving Safely Can We Move Freely" (安全流动,才能自由流动)


Similar Wording

The editorials were short (around 400 characters) and used similar, and in some cases identical, language. For example, four of these editorials used the term "border":
  • December 20
    • "Delineate the borders of behavior" (厘定行为边界)
  • December 24
    • "Words and actions have borders" (言行是有边界的)
    • "Rational borders of freedom" (自由的合理边界)
    • "Establish the borders of responsibility" (确立责任边界)
  • December 28
    • "Borders of legality" (合法边界 - used three times)
    • "Demarcate the borders of online words and actions" (划定网络言行的边界)
    • "Establish the borders" (确立边界)
  • January 10
    • "Social life has borders, and the Internet world has a bottom line" (社会生活有边界,网络世界有底线)
Other state-sponsored media outlets employed the "border" metaphor as well. A Global Times' January 9 editorial told readers that "every country's news reports have their own borders and forbidden zones (各国的新闻报道都有各自的边界和禁区), while a Guangming Daily's December 19 editorial used a phrase that would become the title of the People's Daily January 10 editorial: "Social life has borders, and the Internet world has a bottom line." (社会生活有边界,网络世界有底线)

In another example of employing the exact same phrasing, three of the People's Daily editorials (December 18, 20, and 30) and one Guangming Daily editorial (December 19) used the Chinese idiom for "public security and good morals." (公序良俗)


Real Name Editorials?


Each of the editorials had a different author, but because the People's Daily did not provide any description of the authors' affiliations or qualifications, it was difficult, if not impossible, to determine the author's actual identity. For example, the December 18 editorial was authored by someone named Mo Lvlv (莫津津). The People's Daily has been publishing editorials on a variety of topics with that byline since at least 2005, when it published an editorial on page 10  of the June 7 edition entitled "Hangzhou: Objections Arise to Social Security, to Be Settled in a Hearing" (杭州:低保有异议 听证来定夺). In that editorial the People's Daily referred to Mo as "Yunnan, Kunming, Mo Lvlv" (云南昆明市 莫津津).

On August 30 (服刑先学《弟子规》) and November 9, 2007 (浙江绍兴县 跑车巡警,半月叫停), the People's Daily web site included articles with quotes from a "Yunnan, Kunming, Mo Lvlv" (云南昆明市 莫津津) as well as a "Hunan, Huaihua, Mo Lvlv" (湖南怀化市 莫津津).

In 2010 and 2011, the People's Daily was referring to Mo simply as "Internet user Mo Lvlv" (网友莫津津) in the editorials in which they quoted him (or her):
The People's Daily's December 20 editorial was entitled: "The Internet Needs to Operate in Accordance with the Law" (网络需要依法运行). This was the first in the series to raise privacy issues. The author was Kong Fangbin (孔方斌), and there is no indication that anyone with this name had ever published anything else, anywhere else. Some excerpts:
This is the state of the Internet. Even as there is positive, active, and healthy information flows, there is also rumor mongering, fraud, and defamation mixed in. If we take a laissez-faire attitude it will threaten public security, harm the interests of the average citizen, and bring with it severe social harm.
. . . .
The Internet needs not only "self-cleansing," but also a system for third-party discipline, demarkation of the borders of behavior, and increased oversight in accordance with the law. It is necessary to keep irresponsible rumor mongering in check, keep personal information from being disclosed, and prevent and attack digital crimes from pornography to fraud.
In 1977, America enacted legislation on computer systems, Japan has implemented an indirect real name system, and Germany blocks illegal web page content . . . for the Internet to progress, the law must move forward as well. 
. . . .
On December 22, the People's Daily front page editorial was entitled "Internet Development Needs to be 'Grabbed with Two Hands'" (网络发展需要'两手抓'). The author was Yu Yang (于洋). Baidu's Baike has an entry for a woman by that name who is an Olympic badminton gold medalist.  Some excerpts from the editorial:
Over the last 20 years China's Internet has gone from weak to flourishing, and much of this is owing to the passion, creativity, and participation of Internet users. However, as something that grew spontaneously, the spread of the Internet has some peculiarities that are not easy to ignore, such as the fact that many Internet users only browse information that they themselves need, only pay attention to views that they agree with, and information screening can easily produce extreme public reaction, as well as irrational discussion and uncivilized behavior.
The next editorial was published on December 23 and entitled "There Can Be Health Only Where There is a Bottom Line." (有底线,才健康) Some excerpts:
Being open does not mean people can behave unscrupulously. Being free is not the same thing as running around cursing people, and sharing information does not mean arbitrarily disclosing other people's private affairs and spreading rumors everywhere. Unless there is basic rational judgment, social order, and legal restraints, this kind of of Internet will only sink into chaos and will find itself at a fork in the road, where it cannot develop in a healthy manner, much less become the vital new frontier that Internet users hope for.
Long ago foreign countries made the Internet into an "information superhighway." When driving on a highway legal restrictions and driver's ethical instincts are both required. For the Internet superhighway to be orderly and safe, it similarly needs both ethical self-discipline and legal regulation.  
The author of this piece, Jian Mandu (简满屯), had previously authored or been quoted in at least four other People's Daily editorials, and was only identified as "a reader":
The next day, December 24, the People's Daily front page once again included a similarly-titled editorial: "Words and Deeds on the Internet Should Comply with the Law's Bottom Line" (网络言行应遵循法律底线). The name of the author of that piece, Guo Sheng (郭胜), is somewhat common (including a police officer in Chongqing and a historical figure from the Han Dynasty), so its impossible to determine who the author really is. Some excerpts:
If someone defames and insults others in the name of "freedom," and harm others commercial credibility or their product's reputation, then this is in fact illegal, even criminal. If someone clings to "justice" as an excuse to claim the ends justifies the means, even to the point of "lying to obscure the truth," this is similarly irresponsible.
During last year's riots in England, Premier Cameron once exclaimed: "Free flow of information can be used for good, but it can also be used for bad." The Internet has given us greater freedom, and has also given us greater responsibility. Only by establishing the boundaries of responsibility, stipulating the standards of what is "lawful" and was is "unlawful," will we be able to better enjoy freedom and protect rights, only then will we better promote progress for the nation and society. 
去年英国骚乱后,首相卡梅伦曾感慨:“信息自由流通可以用来做好事,但同样可以用来干坏事。” 网络给予了我们更多自由,也给予了我们更大责任。确立责任边界,厘定“法”与“非法”的标准,我们才能更好地享受自由、保护权利,才能更好地推动国家与社会的进步。
The December 25 front page editorial was entitled "Further the Internet's 'Positive Forces' Through Rule by Law" (以法治涵养网络"正能量"). The author, Wang Zhaolei (王兆雷), appears to be a reporter with the People's Daily. Some excerpts:
In modern society, the ultimate purpose of any law is to safeguard citizens' rights, freedoms, and dignity. In this sense, legislation should not be viewed narrowly as "controlling," nor should Internet legislation be viewed as being in opposition to Internet development.
. . . .
Strengthening Internet legislation will not only put fear into the hearts of online criminals, it will also provide a legal basis for safeguarding the rights and intersts of Internet users, and channel Internet administration onto the path of the legal system. 
. . . .
The December 27 front page editorial was entitled: "Virtual Spaces Can't Get Away From 'Real World Rules'" (虚拟空间离不开"现实规则"). Some excerpts:
In recent years, the pornographic, fraudulent, rumor mongering, defamatory, and paid commentary content that has frequently appeared on the Internet has not only disturbed online order, it has also interfered with people's offline lives. Establishing and perfecting "real world rules" for the virtual spaces that will promote online civility, heath, and development has become a consensus and an aspiration.
As early as 1996, America clearly determined that the Internet world was "in need of oversight to the same degree as the real world." In Germany, it is impossible to open content promoting Nazi ideology online. In England, the police require Internet cafes to retain knowledge of online activities. The experience of these countries that have a developed Internet should give us inspiration. When it comes to public realms like the Internet, the earlier rules are set up the more mature the development. The sooner we are able to promote the good and abolish the bad, the more we can keep "negative effects" in check, the more we can set free "proper energies." 
The author, Jiang Liuyi (江柳依), had also published at least four other editorials in the People's Daily in 2012:
The following day, December 28, the People's Daily front page editorial entitled "Open Platforms Cannot Exist Without 'Legal Boundaries'" (开放平台不能没有"合法边界"),was authored by Ren Fang (任芳), which is also the name of a People's Daily reporter. Some excerpts:
The good is often buried beneath the bad, with private information being disclosed, rumor mongering and defamation, and infringing and fraudulent actions taking place all the time. In the first half of this year alone China has dealt with 13,900 phishing web sites.
The more open something is, the more it needs to have clearly delineated rules that are commonly obeyed, and borders for Internet speech and action that clearly demarcated. In fact, the history of Internet development is one of constant "border drawing."
The next day, December 29, the People's Daily published a much longer editorial on its front page entitled "Safeguard the Healthy and Orderly Operation of the Internet in Accordance with the Law" (依法保障网络健康有序运行), and this time the editorial was attributed to  "a columnist." Some excerpts:
On December 28, the 30th Meeting of the 11th Plenum of the National People's Congress Standing Committee enacted the Decision Regarding Strengthening Network Information Protection, conforming to the trends of Internet development, the popular will, and the wishes of the people.
. . . .
All circles of society have been vociferous in their call to formulate relevant laws to regulate the collection and utilization of citizen's personal information, stringently punish illegal criminal online activities, safeguard the legal rights and interests of Internet users, and ensure the normal, healthy, and orderly operation of the Internet. The decision of the National People's Congress Standing Committee to strengthen protection of online information comports with the hopes and wishes of people, is an important measure for adapting to the circumstances, and is a concrete manifestation of safeguarding human rights in accordance with the law. It is both very necessary and very timely. 
. . . .
On December 30, the People's Daily front page editorial was entitled "Only by Moving Safely Can We Move Freely" (安全流动,才能自由流动). The author's name was given as De Sheng (德胜) - the Chinese characters for "morality" and "victory." Some excerpts:
It can be seen that there can be no discussion of "freedom" without security. The flood of illegal harmful information will certainly harm citizens' legal rights and interests, jeopardize online public order and morality, and harm the public interest. In order to fully release the bounty of information flows, it is necessary to eliminate the hidden dangers to information security, and this has already become the common consensus of all circles of society, and the appeals for legislation on information security are growing louder day by day. 
On January 10, 2013, the People's Daily published an editorial entitled "Internet Expression Also Needs to be Lawful" (网络表达同样应正当合法) by Mao Lei (毛磊 - which is also the name of a People's Daily reporter). This was the first People's Daily editorial in the cycle to mention the Decision's "real name registration" requirement. Some excerpts:
Expression on Internet platforms can produce two-sided results, besides legal expression, there are also people who may use the Internet to undertake insults, defamation, fraud, pornography, and other illegal activities.
Strengthening Internet management will realize the "unification of rights and duties." On the one hand it will safeguard citizens' freedom of speech and right to expression. On the other hand it will require citizens to take responsibility for the content of their expression. The fundamental utility of Internet back-end real name registration lies in increasing the costs associated with spreading rumors by putting a sense of fear into those who would spread rumors. If rumors are allowed to spread, then in fact it is freedom of speech that is the ultimate victim.
Social life has boundaries, and the Internet has a bottom line. Everyone knows that "freedom" is relative, and in the online world as in the real world, there is not absolute freedom.