Just a few days ago, China has released a draft of a new cybersecurity law that aims to tighten the control on the flow of all online information within its borders.
As it stands today, even before this new legislature, China has become somewhat infamous for their highly controversial cyber practices. The Chinese are already highly restricted in their online activity, so much so, that many rely on VPN services to access the Internet in its entirety. This new law, however, takes the nation to an entirely different level of online oppression.
New cybersecurity internet powers
The draft of the new law will allow “broad powers” to completely control the flow of online information. Although this proposed legislature is not yet law, if passed, Chinese authorities will be able to force compliance from Internet service providers (ISPs) with relative ease. Let’s take a look at what the draft has laid out so far.
As outlined in Article 40 of the draft, network operators will be required to “strengthen the management of information published by users.” While this article may not seem all that farfetched, rest assured, its implications are. With the new online surveillance requirements, ISPs will also be required to prevent the publication or transmission of any information that is deemed “prohibited” by the legal system.
What’s even more outlandish is the fact that these censorship implications don’t seem to end with China. Any prohibited information that originates from beyond the Chinese borders will also be subject to “relevant action”. Essentially, this means that China will notify and push “relevant organizations” to adopt the necessary measures to block the transmission of said information. If this bill is passed, ISP will have no choice but comply to the demands of the government in power, or they will risk fines and potentially the confiscation of their business license.
While Article 40 of the draft seems terrible enough, the Chinese government seems to push even harder. Article 50 discusses the potential for a complete shutdown of Chinese networks – should the need arise. According to the draft, this measure is in place in the event that China needs to protect national security and maintain social public order. Whatever that means.
Restrictions are nothing new for Chinese internet users
Censorship is nothing new to Chinese people, and much of the internet is already blocked with the help of the infamous Great Firewall of China. This bill, however, will arm the government with additional tools that will further suppress the online experience. And although China has made many attempts at controlling the internet in the past, this time you can be sure that they mean business. Previously, this type of censorship (along with the ability to completely shut down parts of the grid) was only outlined in lower-level regulations and Internet service providers’ contracts. This proposed bill, however, if passed will elevate these powers to national law.
This is a huge red flag that China doesn’t plan to let up on their questionable practices any time soon. And at least for now, Chinese Internet users will need to rely on VPNs to explore the internet in its full glory.
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