On Monday 07 November, China adopted some new cyber security laws which it days would go a long way in tackling the growing threats at the moment of hacking attempts and cyber terrorism, but the new law has raised some red flags with the foreign business and rights groups.
The new law was passed by the Chinese parliament and is going to come into effect from next year in June. One parliamentary official noted that the new law was an objective need for China as an emerging internet power.
The critics of the law say that it threatens to shut the foreign companies in the technology department and it also includes the contentious requirements for the security review and also for the data to be stored on the servers which would be in China.
Right advocates also say that the legislation would them tighten the restrictions which are imposed on the Chinese Internet which is said to be the world’s most sophisticated online censorship mechanism. The censorship ban is well known outside the country as the Great Firewall.
One official of the National People’s Congress, Yang Heqing, said that the internet was already intertwined with the Chinese national security and development. Speaking at the close of the bimonthly legislative meeting, Yang said that the country was an Internet giant and it was one of the countries which would therefore, face the greatest internet security risks.
Over 40 global businesses and corporations wrote to the Chinese premier, Li Keqiang, back in August urging that the government would change the controversial sections of the law. Some Chinese officials have defended it saying that it is not going to interfere with the foreign business interests in the country.
Some of the contentious parts of the law included the requirement which was made in the legislation which noted that critical information infrastructure operators which would help store the personal and the important business data which would be in China. There is also one which notes that they should provide technical support to the security agencies and be able to pass the national security reviews.
It is exactly these same demands which have raised concern amongst the companies which makes them fear that they would be strong-armed into handing over the intellectual property or also open the backdoors within the products they have which would be in order to operate in the Chinese market. The American Chamber of Commerce chairman in China, James Zimmerman, said that the provisions are vague, ambiguous and the subject which would be open to broad interpretation and also by the regulatory authorities.
The Human Rights Watch is also against the laws as it claims it criminalizes the internet and would damage the national unity, which in turn would further restrict the online freedom.
Sophie Richardson, the Director at Human Rights Watch, wrote in an emailed statement and said that the Chinese authorities pressed ahead with the restrictive law even though there was widespread international concern from the corporations, business groups, and rights advocates for more than a year.
The adoption of the law comes at a time when the Chinese President, Xi Jinping, has been cracking down on the civil society and that includes the rights lawyers and the media, a tactic meant to quash dissent.