Baidu to fully implement real name system starting next month

Chinese search giant Baidu announced yesterday that it will fully implement a real name registration starting next month, in a bid to tighten its grip on its online forum and cloud storage services.

When registering a new account, Baidu users must provide a mobile phone number linked to a Chinese ID in order to complete registration starting on June 1. Access to Baidu’s various services including Baidu Cloud cloud storage space (百度云盘) and Baidu Tieba discussion forums (百度贴吧) will be disabled if users fail to do so.

Baidu has long ago encouraged users to tie a mobile number to their account but has not made it mandatory until now. The move is seen as a response to the recent release of the amended Management Regulations on Internet News Information Service by the country’s Internet regulator, which bans Internet information service providers from providing services for users who refuse to disclose their real names and information.

Real name registration is nothing new in the country. Chinese authorities have rolled out a slew of real-name registration rules for mobile phone numbers, internet access, live streaming and other areas in recent years.

Aside from Baidu, both Chinese microblogging website Sina Weibo and Tencent’s WeChat messaging app have required users to bind an ID or mobile phone number when they set up new accounts.

The Chinese search giant’s announcement also comes at a time when its 2TB-free cloud storage space Baidu Cloud has increasingly become a channel for some unscrupulous individuals to spread pirated content.

Baidu Cloud was found to have been embroiled in a piracy scandal last month when the country’s hit anti-graft TV drama In the Name of People (人民的名义 in Chinese) was leaked online in mid-April when the TV drama was less than halfway aired via licensed channels. And people can pay as little as RMB 8.8 to view the full series through WeChat, Weibo, and Baidu Cloud.

TechNode has reached out to Baidu for comment and will update when they respond.