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China Tightens Internet Restrictions

China has tightened its controls on Internet use, requiring anyone who wants to set up a Web site to meet directly with government regulators.

The new rules, published by the Technology Ministry this week, also require Web site owners to submit their identity cards and personal photos.

A ministry statement says the measures will help the country deal with online pornography. But human rights defenders say the regulations are just a new form of government censorship.

China has about 380 million Internet users, the world's biggest online population. The government carefully censors the Web to filter out sexually explicit or violent content, as well as information it considers to be a challenge to the ruling Communist Party.

The controls announced this week lift a freeze that the Technology Ministry imposed in December on new Web site registrations.

Chinese authorities are holding talks with Internet giant Google about whether the U.S.-based company can continue operating in that country without respecting the government's censorship rules.

Google threatened to withdraw from China last month after discovering what it said were China-based cyber attacks on the company's e-mail accounts.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.