Ban on Individuals Buying China's '.CN' Domains to be Lifted Tomorrow?

CNNIC , China’s administrative agency for internet affairs, is expected to announce tomorrow that ‘.cn’ and other Chinese-language domain endings will be made available to individuals to purchase. It’ll mark the end of a long clampdown on such web addresses that saw a business license being needed in order to get one - a move made in December 2009 after state-run television condemned the flood of pornographic websites using the then new ‘.cn’ address.

To back up the personal usage - which also covers wholly localized, Chinese domains that end with ‘.中国’ - Techweb reports that CNNIC will also put into place three new rules to make such websites accountable for their content under Chinese law. It’s not clear if that applies to political material, or if it’s just a safeguard against sexual images or videos.

CNNIC says that there are 3.5 million such localized top-level domains in China, out of a total of 7.86 million registered sites in the country (using ‘.com,’ ‘.net,’ etc). That former number is said to have dropped by 10 million after the ‘.cn’ clampdown in 2009 which saw website owners forced to transfer their domain onto a business license or face having the web portal shut down.

As this is expected to be announced tomorrow, there’s no word of this yet on the CNNIC website. But, in a separate post on the Chinese version of the site, I notice that the agency indicates another rule change issued today which specifies how ‘.cn’ and ‘.中国’ domains will be treated as separate services starting on October 29th of this year.

We’ll update tomorrow if this becomes official.

[Sources: Techweb; and CNNIC - articles in Chinese]