I am writing in response to the article, "China's cyber regulator says all mainland internet users must register real personal details" (February 4, SCMP).
In my opinion, making people give their real details is really bad for freedom of speech.
If people make comments that are critical of the central government, their real identities can be revealed and they might even be sent to prison. This is likely to lead to self-censorship on the internet.
Although the new measures are supposed to stop people from giving false information, I think it is just a way to prevent criticism of the central government.
Mainland authorities should focus on improving people's well-being instead of imposing rules that harm freedom of speech.
Lee Lok-yin, Our Lady of the Rosary College
From the Editor
Thank you for your letter, Lok-yin. Keeping identities secret online is a perfect example of a "double-edged sword". This means that it's bad if you do something and bad if you don't.
While we like to think that in Hong Kong we are anonymous online, we're not really. If someone wants to know who has posted something from a private account, they can find out. So we need to always keep that in mind when using the internet.
On the other hand, there are people who use the anonymity to carry out crimes, like talking people into giving them money or getting kids to run away from home so they can be trafficked.
While we hold freedom of speech in high regard, it comes at a price that I think not many people are willing to pay when it comes to crime, so there has to be a balanced solution.
Unfortunately, if the government has complete control over everything, there isn't anyone to act as a middle man, like the courts do at the moment, when people's identities are revealed.