China Moves to Restrict Blogs to Named Authors

Besides the obvious question this raises about whether or not The Spend Fool would be allowed to keep commenting if Spend Matters were a China-based blog -- and whether I, as primary author of this thing, could be tossed in the spend slammer if I kept his identity a secret -- I find it very telling about the insecure underpinnings of any society that would mandate that journalists or writers must use their real name. Now, don't get me wrong. Slander and libel are wrong, but the very concept of a free society is based on a free press. And sometimes, pseudonyms or anonymous writings have their place. Consider how some of Benjamin Franklin's most influential words leading up to and during the time of the American Revolution were in fact written under various pseudonyms such as "Silence Dogood" and "Busy Body". But this is not so, according to government officials in China. "Bloggers anonymously disseminating untrue information on the Internet [can bring] about a negative influence on society," Chinese authorities are quoted as saying in the piece. What is the government suggesting ... cough, requiring? "Under the proposed rule, users would be required to register under their real name to open a blog but would still be allowed to write under a pseudonym." So I suppose it is OK to play the fool, but only if the court knows your real motives before the curtain goes up ...

Jason Busch

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