China passes con­tro­ver­sial cy­ber­se­cu­rity law

The Myanmar Times - - World -

CHINA yes­ter­day passed a con­tro­ver­sial cy­ber­se­cu­rity bill fur­ther tight­en­ing re­stric­tions on on­line free­dom of speech, rais­ing con­cerns that it could in­ten­sify al­ready wide-rang­ing in­ter­net cen­sor­ship.

The rul­ing Com­mu­nist Party over­sees a vast cen­sor­ship sys­tem – dubbed the Great Fire­wall – that ag­gres­sively blocks sites or snuffs out in­ter­net con­tent and com­men­tary on top­ics con­sid­ered sen­si­tive, such as Bei­jing’s hu­man rights record and crit­i­cism of the govern­ment.

The law, which was ap­proved by the Na­tional Peo­ple’s Congress Stand­ing Com­mit­tee, bans in­ter­net users from pub­lish­ing a wide va­ri­ety of in­for­ma­tion, in­clud­ing any­thing that dam­ages “na­tional hon­our”, “dis­turbs eco­nomic or so­cial or­der” or is aimed at “over­throw­ing the so­cial­ist sys­tem”.

The law re­quires com­pa­nies to ver­ify a user’s iden­tity, ef­fec­tively mak­ing it il­le­gal and im­pos­si­ble to go on­line anony­mously.

It also in­cludes pro­vi­sions for pro­tect­ing the coun­try’s net­works and pri­vate user in­for­ma­tion.

Early drafts of the leg­is­la­tion drew a wave of crit­i­cism from rights groups and busi­nesses, which ob­jected to its vague lan­guage.

For­eign com­pa­nies, in par­tic­u­lar, ex­pressed con­cern about lan­guage that would re­quire them to co­op­er­ate with Chi­nese au­thor­i­ties to “pro­tect na­tional se­cu­rity”, broadly worded lan­guage that was in­cluded in the fi­nal ver­sion of the law.

Chi­nese au­thor­i­ties have long re­served the right to con­trol and cen­sor on­line con­tent. But the coun­try stepped up its con­trols in 2013, launch­ing a wide-rang­ing in­ter­net crack­down that tar­get­ted ac­tivists and fo­cused on the spread of so-called “in­ter­net ru­mours”.

Hun­dreds of Chi­nese blog­gers and jour­nal­ists were de­tained as part of the cam­paign to as­sert greater con­trol over so­cial me­dia, which has seen in­flu­en­tial crit­ics of Bei­jing pa­raded on state tele­vi­sion. –

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