Disputed Chinese cybersecurity law enters third and final stage for approval
THE Chinese government could be about to pass a cybersecurity law that will allow the authorities to freeze assets and take extra measures against foreign organizations that they perceive to be a threat to national security.
A revised draft of the controversial law has been submitted for its last reading in Parliament by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, reports the Xinhua News Agency.
The proposed law will also impose more restrictive security measures for certain industries, including public communications, energy, and finance. According to the state-owned China Internet Information Center, the draft will authorize the police or other law enforcers to take action against “overseas individuals or organizations that attack, intrude, interfere with, or sabotage the nation’s key information infrastructure”.
— China Xinhua News (@XHNews) November 1, 2016
This is unsurprising given China’s fondness for tight control over media and public information, but the draft law has been met with much objection from foreign governments and business groups.
According to Reuters, foreign business lobbies say the contested law is too vague and could lead to discrimination against overseas companies.
Reuters reports that the draft cybersecurity law would serve to authorize sweeping powers for the Chinese government that will range from rampant censorship to much more intense control over certain technology.
Foreign companies with stakes in the Chinese markets are concerned that the law, which also introduces new rules that require foreign companies to store data locally and provide the government with encryption keys, could be feeding an agenda to protect the local technology sector by deterring people from buying foreign products out of fear for their privacy.
However, the government has always maintained that cybersecurity is a major issue for them, claiming that foreign cyber attacks – especially from the U.S. – are growing year on year. According to the South China Morning Post, over 64,000 “control points” were found to be controlling local websites with malware from overseas last year, a government website alleged. They said this represented a 52 percent rise in hacks and cyber attacks from 2014.