Should you use your real name on the internet?

Should you use your real name on the internet?


Chris Huang
By Chris Huang

Recently, a post on famous university bulletin board system (BBS) Bai Lan Yuan ( sparked a lot of controversy. The post asked for readers' opinions as to whether users should register using their real names.

Bai Lan Yuan was founded in 2005 and is very popular with university teachers and students in Foshan , with more than 21,000 registered users.

The survey was posted by BBS webmaster Xiao Ping. He believes real name identification is necessary due to increasing illegal behaviour on the internet. But most students disapprove of the plan. They consider it a restriction of their freedom of expression, and are worried their personal information will be disclosed.

'The desire for real name registration suggests the webmaster cannot deal very well with sensitive content,' says a netizen from Foshan University who calls himself 'La Tuo Ni'.

'If there's a problem on the BBS, the webmaster can just hand over the users' information and needn't take any responsibility.'

A Net-user from Guangdong Textile Polytechnic calling himself "Zhao Liang" says he is concerned about the safety of his personal information. 'What if the BBS benefits from selling our information to companies?'

Xiao promises the BBS will do its best to protect their information. 'We will download the user's information to the local hard drive as soon as possible, and then delete the records in the server. It will prevent hackers from stealing the information,' he says.

Li Jin, a lawyer from Guangdong's Hua Fa law firm, thinks that universities should not submit students' information to the BBS, as it will infringe their privacy.

He also points out that there is a 'confidentiality contract' between the BBS and all users after the registration system is carried out.

'If the BBS leaks users' identity, it should bear civil liability,' Li says.

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