China passes new technological anti-terrorism law

[JURIST] China passed a new anti-terrorism law [official text, in Mandarin] on Sunday which requires technology companies to provide information to the government obtained from their products and make information systems "secure and controllable." The law also restricts media organizations from reporting on terrorist activity. Critics of the law, including western organizations and the US Department of State [official website], suggest that the law may not effectively target terrorism and could restrict citizens' freedoms of expression and association because it is so broad in nature. The law also raises issues [Shanghaiist report] for companies such as Apple who do not hold encryption keys on individual devices. Despite the issues, Chinese government officials said [Reuters report] that the law is necessary to combat serious threats of terrorism and that the country needs laws to defend against cyber threats. The law will go into effect on January 1, 2016.

Many nations have passed anti-terrorism laws in recent years that have been criticized by the UN and other advocacy groups. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi approved [JURIST report] a 54-article counter-terrorism law in August, which has been met with significant controversy as many believe it to be an infringement on freedom of the press. Tunisia's parliament voted to approve a new anti-terror law despite strong criticism [JURIST report] from NGOs and human rights groups in July. In January Amnesty International called on [JURIST report] Pakistan to stop sentencing people for violation of the 1997 Anti-Terrorism Act, which they described as "so vague that almost all crimes fall under [its] definition." Nine bloggers were jailed in Ethiopia in April 2014 for violation of Ethiopia's broad anti-terrorism laws, but five of the bloggers were acquitted [JURIST report] in October.

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