COVID-19 Special Coverage
China approves controversial cybersecurity law
China approves controversial cybersecurity law

[JURIST] The Chinese government on Monday approved a controversial cybersecurity law [translated materials] that the government hopes will protect Internet users and minimize fraud, however, human rights organizations and members of the cybersecurity field have come out against it. Calling the law “draconian,” many have expressed concern that the new law is abusive [HRW report], as it bolsters censorship laws and requires companies to monitor and report vague “network security incidents” and store personal information of users. On the business front, James Zimmerman, chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in China, stated [CNN report] called the law a “step backwards.” Many believe that it will make it harder for foreign business to operate within China as the law also requires that companies “demonstrate” that they can withstand hacks and are open to more government scrutiny.

The Chinese government has been criticized for passing national security laws that tighten its control of civil society. Earlier this year the Cyberspace Administration of China announced [JURIST report] that search companies must abide by new Internet regulations. The CAC stated that search companies must produce results in line with national interests and must clearly distinguish normal results from paid ads which may display illegal and misleading information. Search companies are also required to properly report illegal content which may threaten national security or negatively impact public judgment. In July 2015 China adopted [JURIST report] a new national security law that increased its cyber security powers, allowing authorities to broaden internet oversight and crack down harder against cyber attacks, thefts and the spread of harmful information. UN rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein subsequently deplored [JURIST report] the new law, criticizing its extraordinarily broad scope, vague language, and its threat to the freedom of expression.