China's new cybersecurity law draws criticism from tech companies and rights groups

China's new cybersecurity law draws criticism from tech companies and rights groups

China's new cybersecurity law draws criticism from tech companies and rights groups

"China is an internet power, and as one of the countries that faces the greatest internet security risks, urgently needs to establish and flawless network security legal systems", Yang Heqing, of the National People's Congress standing committee, tells Reuters.

China's legislature has approved a cybersecurity law that human rights activists warn will tighten political controls and foreign companies say might isolate Chinese industries.

Despite protestation from some of the largest tech companies in the world, the Chinese government has given the green light to a controversial new cybersecurity law that could have major implications on data security and global trade.

China's ruling Communist Party oversees a vast censorship system dubbed the Great Firewall that aggressively blocks sites or snuffs out Internet content and commentary on topics it considers sensitive
China's new cybersecurity law draws criticism from tech companies and rights groups

The law, passed by the standing committee of China's rubber-stamp parliament and made public on Monday, says agencies and enterprises must improve their ability to defend against network intrusions while demanding security reviews for equipment and data in strategic sectors.

"The law will effectively put China's Internet companies, and hundreds of millions of Internet users, under greater state control", said Sophie Richardson, Human Rights Watch's China director.

Also contained in the law, individual users are expected to register their real names to use messaging services in China.

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Contentious provisions include requirements for "critical information infrastructure operators" to store personal information and important business data in China, provide unspecified "technical support" to security agencies and to pass national security reviews.

Also, worldwide companies would be forced under the law to store personal and critical business information within China itself, raising concerns that "back doors" or other vulnerabilities will be enforced upon their products. But Internet control has reached new heights since President Xi assumed power in March 2013, the New York-based rights group said. Seven years ago, most of the Internet in China's Xinjiang Province was shuttered for many months as the national government sought to quell unrest in the Muslim-influenced region in northwestern China. Article 35, for example, states "Personal information and other important business data gathered or produced by critical information infrastructure operators during operations within the mainland territory of the People's Republic of China, shall store it within mainland China".

Early drafts of the legislation drew a wave of criticism from rights groups and businesses, which objected to its vague language.

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Granting the Chinese government access to foreign companies' data may smooth this credit score system and help authorities single out dissidents.

Last year, it passed a broad and vaguely-worded national security law that critics said would make it easier for the government to quash dissent.

Zhao Zeliang, director-general of the cybersecurity bureau of the Cyberspace Administration of China, dismissed assertions it thwarted foreign investment in the country.

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The new law is an attempt to address fraud and other problems that have emerged as China's film market continues to grow quickly.

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