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China amends state secrets law to require companies to inform on customers

[JURIST] The Chinese government on Thursday revised its often-criticized state secrets [JURIST news archive] law to require Internet and telecommunications companies to inform on customers who share state secrets. This new provision may provide a disincentive [FT report] to many service providers from entering China, particularly when considered along with China's Internet filtering laws [BBC backgrounder]. The new law also narrows the definition [Xinhua report] of state secrets. As approved by parliament, the phrase state secrets now means, "information concerning state security and interests and, if leaked, would damage state security and interests in the areas of politics, economy and national defense." The amended state secrets law will take effect in October.

China's state secrets law has frequently been criticized for the breadth of action which falls under the doctrine. In November 2009, rights activist Huang Qi was sentenced to three years in prison [JURIST report] for violating the state secrets law, when he discussed how some schools collapsed after the Sichuan province earthquake [BBC backgrounder] in 2008 because of shoddy construction. China began a review of its state secrets law last June, after concerns were raised regarding Internet filtering software [JURIST reports] on computers sold in that country.

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