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China passes new cybersecurity law threatening foreign businesses

A new cybersecurity law has been passed in China which will give the country even more control over the internet and will require foreign companies to store their data locally.

On Monday, the National People's Congress Standing Committee passed the new law on Monday causing a great deal of concern amongst human rights groups and foreign businesses. China already limits access to the internet through its own online security system known in the west as 'the Great Firewall' but this new cybersecurity law will allow the country to further censor and control the internet.

Sophie Richardson, the director of Human Rights Watch (HRW), has released a statement regarding the new cybersecurity law, saying: “Despite widespread international concern from corporations and rights advocates for more than a year, Chinese authorities pressed ahead with this restrictive law without making meaningful changes.”

The new cybersecurity law will also make it more difficult for businesses to operate in China, as they will be required to collect and store real names and personal information from their online users. This includes messaging services that may end up having to store conversations sent between users as well.
Foreign internet companies will also be affected by the new law as they will have to store their data locally so that it will be more accessible to the Chinese government. The law itself is quite vague in its terms and requires that these businesses store “personal information and other important business data” in the country.

HRW offered further insight into China's new cybersecurity law, saying: “The final draft narrows the scope to only data that is related to a firm's China operations, but the term 'important business data' is undefined, and companies must still submit to a security assessment if they want to transfer data outside the country.”

China's new cybersecurity law will increase the government's control over the internet while making it increasingly difficult for businesses to operate within the country. Hopefully the country will acknowledge the concerns raised by foreign companies before the law goes into effect in June 2017. 

Image Credit: Fredex / Shutterstock

Anthony Spadafora
After living and working in South Korea for seven years, Anthony now resides in Houston, Texas where he writes about a variety of technology topics for ITProPortal.