The mobile version of Bilibili, a Chinese video streaming platform, started displaying users’ IP locations on their profile page and information pages on July 25, as well as the comments they have posted. However, the web version has not launched this feature yet.
The feature will show users’ general location information (provinces and city areas) for users based in China, while overseas users’ IP locations will show country information. Users won’t be able to turn off the location identification.
Since March, Chinese social media platform Weibo, information platforms like Toutiao and Zhihu, Internet giant Baidu, as well as Tencent‘s WeChat official accounts have begun showing IP location information.
At present, the display of IP location data has not been standard across the country. The Regulations on the Management of Internet User Account Information, which will take effect on August 1, clearly stipulates that Internet information service providers should display IP location of users within a reasonable range, so as to facilitate public supervision.
Some netizens support the launch of this function, believing that it will make the network environment much cleaner, while others are concerned about the privacy. In fact, the feature shows users’ general location information, instead of accurate position such as the community in which the user lives. Therefore, users do not need to worry about any privacy disclosures.
In addition, the grey industrial chain of buying proxy IP services to cover their real locations emerged after the move of major Internet platforms in China. An IP proxy is a telecom service model born to solve the problem of network activity encryption and acceleration. It requires authorization and qualification to engage in related services. However, arbitrarily changing IP location may lead to illegal theft of user privacy, fraud and disruption of network order.