Will China’s Stern Censorship Hurt Sina?

Already criticized for its strict censorship rules, China is now planning to harden restrictions on Internet service providers to get added control over the country’s microblogs and other web forums. The country’s cabinet proposed a list of changes to Internet law on Thursday and threatened providers with criminal punishment and loss of business licenses for failure to comply.

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Last year the country had ordered a rule that required real name registration from users of microblog services. On Thursday, the purview of the rule was extended to cover blogs and online discussion forums as well. Companies running bogs will also be required to keep logs for 12 months and provide technical assistance to the law enforcement agencies.

Massively popular microblogging site Sina Weibo (NASDAQ:SINA), which is called the Twitter of China and has more than 300 million registered users, introduced new rules last month that can potentially have users banned for posting about sensitive political topics. These homegrown avenues for China’s more than 500 million Internet users had first sprung up after the country’s government blocked the more mainstream international websites, including Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) and Twitter, two years ago.

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