Beijing has completed a monitoring scheme in Tibet that requires all telephone and internet users to register under their real names, state media said yesterday, as part of a campaign to crack down on what officials describe as rumours.
Tibetans are already closely watched, due to decades of often violent unrest in protest at central government rule, which Beijing blames on the Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled spiritual leader.
The central government last year passed a law mandating the nationwide use of real names to register for internet services and also began forcing users of the Sina Weibo microblogging platform to register their real names.
Enforcement of similar rules for cellphones, especially pay-as-you-go services, is often lax, though.
By the end of last year, all 2.76 million fixed line and mobile telephone users and 1.47 million internet users in the region had registered for services under their real identities, Xinhua said.
The scheme "is conducive to protecting citizens' personal information and curbing the spread of detrimental information" the report quoted government official Nyima Doje as saying.
The growing popularity of the internet and mobile phones has "brought about social problems, including the rampant circulation of online rumours, pornography and spam messages", another official, Dai Jianguo, said.
"The real-name registration will help resolve these problems while benefiting the long-term, sound development of the internet," Dai added, according to Xinhua.
Beijing has defended its iron-fisted rule in Tibet, saying the region suffered from dire poverty, brutal exploitation of serfs and economic stagnation until 1950, when PLA troops "peacefully liberated" it.
The Dalai Lama fled into exile in 1959, following a failed uprising against Chinese rule. He denies Chinese charges of stoking violence in Tibet.
Beijing's announcement of the completion of the telephone and internet monitoring programme in Tibet comes as mainland media and the government have expressed indignation at accusations of mass surveillance by the National Security Agency in the US, revealed by whistle-blower Edward Snowden.