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Chinese internet users surf in disguise
2006-12-25 10:42:45 Xinhua English

BEIJING, Dec. 26 (Xinhua) -- Chinese internet users are accessing on-line games and websites with fake identity card numbers to preserve their anonymity.

Game companies and some websites require internet users to provide names and identity card numbers when registering on-line game accounts or accessing entries. But software that can generate fake identity numbers can be downloaded from the Internet.

The software, often less than one megabyte, can instantly generate identity card numbers once the users input fake names, places of birth and genders.

The software can even forge the identities of residents in Hong Kong, Taiwan and the Republic of Korea, with which on-line gamers on the mainland can access game servers in those regions.

"Chinese game companies and most of the websites that require personal information on registration do not check anything. Their 'real name registration systems' are simply no match for the identity card number generators," said an official from the National Citizen Identity Information Center.

"Even kids can now access games and websites that contain unsuitable content using the identity card number generator," he said.

Huang Chenqing, secretary general with the Internet Society of China (ISC), said "a lot of internet users just don't want to register under their real names for fear that they cannot do and say what they want on the net as freely as before. What's more, some internet users don't trust game companies and websites with their personal information," said Huang.

Earlier reports said ISC, which falls under the Ministry of Information Industry, has proposed that bloggers be required to register their true identities when they open a blog.

An official with the Ministry of Public Security said that people faking identity cards can be fined from 200 yuan to 1,000 yuan (25 to 125 U.S. dollars) or detained for 10 days, according to the Law of the People's Republic of China on Resident Identity Cards.

He also warned that the software may generate identity card numbers being used by other people, and this would lead to a violation of their rights.

Identity numbers appear on the identity cards that are issued to Chinese citizens when they reach 16, and are supposed to be a citizen's "sole and inalterable permanent code".

The 18-digit number includes 6 numerals representing the holder's birth place, 8 for the date of birth, and another 4 for sex and differentiation.

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