China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology stated that all Internet domain names in China are to be registered through government-licensed providers, raising concern in the US over the free flow of information.
According to the draft regulations, Chinese internet service providers are forbidden to provide Internet access to domains registered with a foreign registrar. If a domain name is not registered through government-licensed providers, it is not compliant with Chinese legislation.
As China has grown into one of the most influential digital economies with more than 700 million Internet users, US officials are concerned the measures could endanger the evolution of the Internet.
Even though China has so far shown interest in contributing to the global development and management of the internet, the US believes these recent regulations could undermine the flow of free information and commerce. Chinese officials have yet to provide a reason for this decision.
As these decisions go against international policies and affect net neutrality, a number of governments and organizations around the world have expressed concern.
The United States, an active supporter of Internet expansion and freedom of speech, fears this “is the exercise of aggressive authority over people’s use of the Internet or the ability of a government to prevent the world from reaching its people.
“Sadly, this is exactly what Chinese authorities, through these recent measures, are trying to do,” the US State Department says. “Such efforts will not only create undue burdens and challenges for enterprises, both Chinese and foreign, operating in China, but they will also diminish the view of China as a constructive partner in the development of the global Internet. Furthermore, they will hinder Chinese technology and services from achieving acceptance outside of China.”
Net neutrality is the pillar on which the entire digital economy is based. Created in 2003 by Professor Tim Wu, the net neutrality theory states that all online data should be treated equal. The Internet is an open architecture that allows users to speak freely. As a result, internet service providers should not interfere in any way with online content, but encourage the progress of the open network.
“By creating its own rules for domain name management, China is threatening to fragment the Internet, which would limit the Internet’s ability to operate as a global platform for human communication, commerce, and creativity,” the State Department says.