China has recently passed a new data security law that allows the government to have a firmer control over the internet. The new law could have an impact on foreign companies. Apart from that, various US trade associations and human rights groups warn of the impact the new law will have on human rights in the country.
The Human Rights Watch has marked the new law as being a regressive measure that strengthens surveillance and censorship. According to the Human Rights Watch, the final draft of the law would force a large range of companies to collect real names from online users and enforce content censorship.
HRW criticises some terms used by the law to be too vague. For example, “important business data” is one of such terms mentioned by the law. The companies will also be forced to report any network security incidents to the local authorities. The term “technical support” the companies will need to provide in such cases, is also broad and undefined.
In August, several EU and US industry associations wrote a letter to the Chinese government as an act of protest aimed against the new law. One of the criticisms the letter contained was a warning about the new law potentially breaking security measures, as well as exposing the sensitive personal information of citizens to malicious individuals.
Here are some examples of online activities that are prohibited by the new law: advocating terrorism, trying to overthrow the socialist system, extremism, and trying to split the nation. Currently, China already blocks access to Facebook and Twitter.