The last few years have seen a steady increase in the Chinese censorship regime. It’s been a long time since websites like Facebook, Google, and Twitter were banned. Publications and other forms of media are carefully regulated, but the Chinese government isn’t satisfied yet with how tight their grip is. Now, under a new internet regulation that came into effect on November 1st, Police can virtually do whatever they want to Chinese ISPs and thus whatever data they want, they will get.
The new regulation allows authorities in China to enter the premises of any Chinese company that provides internet services. From here, they can freely copy any information that is considered relevant to cybersecurity. The regulation has a tremendously broad scope, and it’s also extremely vague when it comes to limitations.
When police enter the premises of an ISP, they can require managers to comply with them to provide information about inspected items and they can even conduct remote inspections of networks as long as they give advance notice. The list of potential reasons for an inspection seemingly give the police the ability to inspect whenever they want.
The regulation details that police can enter and inspect an internet service company and check to see if the company complies with law for any of the following reasons:
- has kept a record of user information and their logs
- has taken measures to protect against viruses and hacks
- has taken measures to keep banned publications unavailable
- has responded and given assistance to national security
- has complied with investigation of terrorist activities
- complies with special instructions during times of cybersecurity safeguard tasks
While the new law certainly seems terrible, it’s not even that much worse than things have been already. It’s just putting what has been happening already into writing. Once a ship has sunk, is it that much of a deal if it sinks deeper? Well, in the case of China, it means that internet freedom just keeps becoming more unlikely.
Analysts think that the new regulation is just another regulation that will continue the censorship regime. Wu Han, a partner from the law firm King and Wood Malleson in Beijing, explains the situation is much the same as it has been,
“The public security authorities have long conducted similar inspections on cybersecurity, and they have long had the authority to do so.” Han understands that the police have already had the ability to“supervise and manage security and protection work on computer information systems.”
As more and more regulations come out to cement China’s place as a censorship power, things look more and more dire for Chinese citizens who value internet freedom and privacy. The question is, at what point will things improve?