China is taking cybersecurity measures more seriously than ever before. The country has approved new legislation that will regulate internet security for the entire nation. Local internet infrastructure is well-protected against foreign attacks, and any hacking attempts will be punishable by law. At the same time, this raises even more concerns regarding freedom of speech.
Regulating Internet Security Might Not Be The Best Idea
Although it is positive to see China take proactive measures when it comes to cybersecurity, regulation may not be the answer. Foreign hackers could not care less if a law exists preventing people from hacking critical infrastructure and government systems. That alone will never stop any serious hacking attempt by anyone, and the Chinese government is well aware of that fact.
However, the government will actively monitor any risks and threats related to cyber security more closely. They will also attempt to determine if attacks originate from within China’s borders, or are officially a foreign threat. Given the nature of cyberspace, that distinction will be rather difficult to make in most cases.
Anyone who is found guilty of committing cybersecurity crimes will face severe punishment. This new ruling pertains not just to the infrastructure itself, but also to national security, and the “common good.” Online activities related to terrorism, extremism, and other illicit activities are now forbidden by law. Spreading obscenities and information that does not stroke the political agenda of the Chinese government is also a criminal offense.
While the new legislation was approved earlier today, it will not go into effect until June 2017. For now, it remains to be seen how much backlash there will be over this decision. China is not known for its freedom of speech, particularly not where the Internet is concerned. This new law only seems to make matters worse and impede free speech even further.
Human Rights Watch, a well-known civil rights organization, has criticized the new law already. Before this legislation was approved, privacy advocates and civil rights groups protested against it, stating how this concept is harmful to the public. It is difficult to walk the fine line between protecting a society and overprotecting it.
The Chinese government will make certain demands regarding IT infrastructure, which could affect foreign players active in the market. Sensitive user information and critical data will need to be stored within China’s borders, and all companies must adhere to national security checkups. Or to be more precise, the Chinese government could demand that companies build back doors into their systems.
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