Internet, posted: 26-Oct-2006 14:21
Reports that Chinese bloggers would be forced to register their names, email addresses, phone and identity card numbers with the Internet Society of China (ISoC) turned out to be a little premature, but only just.
The ISoC has submitted a report to the Ministry of Information Industry supporting such an edict, and it's not in force yet.
However, chance are it will be, because as Mr Dai from ISoC says, the system will:
"strengthen the management of online blogs, prevent blog-connected infringement of privacy and clean up 'unhealthy' blog speeches"
The benefits would be:
"If someone published unhealthy speeches against the government, against society or about Falun Gong, we could then find the author,"
Needless to say, such enforced registration has Chinese bloggers worried. China is after all a brutally repressive communist dictatorship where speaking out could land you with a death sentence followed by instant organ harvesting aboard the Death Bus.
Now Chinese bloggers are talking about using overseas hosting instead which would partly solve the problem. Could the Chinese authorities use technology though to control bloggers? It's already possible to give each single PC a unique, untamperable identifier by using hardware Trusted Platform Modules (TPMs). These, combined with virtualisation built into newer machines that allow administrative access and monitoring over a network, would make it easy to track down where the dissident voice comes from.
I can't imagine it'd be very hard to tie the use of a specific piece of hardware with an individual with the help of existing biometrics - and make it a crime to own computers without such features.
In some ways, uniquely identifiable computers would be a good idea that could be used to combat for instance advertising click-fraud. There's always a flip side to any such coin though, and in this case it's a deadly one.
Other related posts:
Video: Kim Dotcom and Mathias Ortman at the IITP Mega breakfast
Two-factor authentication broken
The problem with naming and shaming
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