China has tightened Internet regulations in Tibet, arguing that this was required to avert any attempts by supporters of the Dalai Lama to create "ethnic disharmony" in a region that has been rocked by a spate of self-immolations.
From now on, the Internet service providers and users in Tibet Autonomous Region are required to register their details with the local Internet watchdog, according to new regulations, the official media reported today.
The reason why the Tibet government made the real identity registration mandatory was due to the complicated ethnic and religious reality, Xu Zhitao, an official on Tibet-related issues the Communist Party of China Central Committee told state-run Global Times.
"It is possible for extremists and separatists to take advantage of the Internet to create, forward and spread rumours that may paralyse ethnic unity in Tibet to their advantage," Xu said.
"The outbound Dalai (Lama) clique may also make use of online rumours in a bid to undermine local stability," he said.
The new regulations were part of tightening of security measures in Tibet in the light of a spate of self-immolation attempts, calling for the return of the Dalai Lama from his exile.
Over 30 Tibetans, mostly Buddhist monks and nuns, have attempted self immolations in recent months.
The new regulations said Internet access and online information providers, Internet data centres and domain name registration centres are required to register the real names of individual Internet users and company details when providing Internet services to them.
The government has issued a total of 16 rules directing all Web users to provide a supplementary registration of their real name information, if they have not yet registered their identity with local Internet access providers and the Internet watchdog, within 60 days.
An employee from the Internet Office of the Tibet local government said that it was a pilot move to lay down real-name registration rules for Internet services nationwide.
Local residents were already required to provide their personal information when obtaining Internet access since early last year.
Internet information providers running news, publications, and other news services are required to keep a record of published information, including time and websites for at least 60 days, the regulation said.