Beijing: Firming up its grip over the 300 million strong microblog media which is increasingly becoming assertive, China on Friday implemented new rules requiring users of Twitter-like microblogging services to provide their true identities while registering accounts.

To start with, the rules will be implemented in capital Beijing.

According to the rules on Beijing's microblog management, which came into effect on Friday, web users need to give their real names to website administrators before being allowed to put up microblog posts, a news agency reported.

Bloggers, however, are free to choose their screen names, a spokesman with the Beijing Internet Information Office said.

As per the new rules, web users need to register using authentic identities when applying for microblog IDs, which will enable them to write, publish, share postings and browse posts. At present, many people use pseudonyms while blogging.

More importantly, the new rules ban individuals and organisations from posting and duplicating illegal content, including information that leaks state secrets, damages national security and interests, and instigates ethnic resentment, discrimination or illegal rallies that disrupt
social order.

They also require websites to get approval from Internet information office to operate microblogging services in Beijing. These websites are obligated to ensure the authenticity of their users' identities, and protect the privacy of microbloggers, the report said.

The new rules came days after a top Internet information official called for forceful and effective measures to control online media which is increasingly posing a major challenge to China's well-entrenched official media.

"More forceful and effective measures" to build and manage cyber culture and propel the development of cyber culture in a "healthy and orderly" way is required, Wang Chen, head of China's State Internet Information Office said.

The online media, mostly operated by people on phones, has opened up the otherwise closed China a great deal.

The latest case that was highlighted by the microblog media was the incident of people in Wukan protesting during the past few days over the death of their leader in police custody. The protests were against land encroachments and were highlighted by the microblog media, including the siege laid on the village by officials.

The new rules asked existing microblogging service providers to complete their current users' data registration within three months.

"The new rules are aimed at protecting web users' interests and improving credibility on the web," a news agency quoted an official as saying.

The new rules drew mixed reactions among microbloggers. Many microbloggers at Sina Weibo, China's largest microblogging site with over 200 million users said the move would be effective in curbing online rumours and fraud, while others were worried that it would stop people from voicing their complaints or grievances.

(Agencies)