Reporters Without Borders last week condemned a "self-discipline pact" signed by 20 blog service providers in China. The Internet Society of China (ISC) -- a part of the Information Industry Ministry -- has not made the pact mandatory, said Reporters Without Borders, but can be used to force compliance on content and disclosure of bloggers' identities.
"The Chinese government has yet again forced Internet-sector companies to cooperate on sensitive issues -- in this case, blogger registration and blog content," the press freedom organization said. "As they already did with Web site hosting services, the authorities have given themselves the means to identify those posting 'subversive' content by imposing a self-discipline pact."
Reporters Without Borders added: "This decision will have grave consequences for the Chinese blogosphere and marks the end of anonymous blogging. A new wave of censorship and repression seems imminent in the run-up to the Communist Party of China's next congress."
Under the new pact, blog service providers are "encouraged" to register users under their real names and contact information before letting them post blogs. More seriously, they will be required to keep this information, which will allow the authorities to identify them. These companies have already in the past provided the police with information about their clients, resulting in arrests.
"Blog service providers who allow the use of pseudonyms may be more attractive to bloggers, but they will be punished by the government if they fail to screen illegal information," said ISC secretary-general Huang Chengqing.
The companies are also urged to adopt "sincere self-discipline and, of their own initiative, to protect the interests of the state and party."
According to Reporters Without Borders both Yahoo.cn and Msn.cn have signed the agreement along with 18 others.