The People’s Republic of China’s Cybersecurity Law has been mentioned all over the internet, we have also cited in the previous articles.
However, quoting separate sections from the Law or merely blaming it for anything that is currently happening with the Chinese internet (although, it is the one to blame for the increasing censorship) without having a clear understanding of the context and the Law is not fair.
Therefore, this time, we shall go a bit deeper into the Cybersecurity Law, just like we did with the institutions behind the Chinese internet censorship, to comprehend the increasing constraints put on the web contents in the PRC. Especially now after another clean-up wave with four major news applications being removed from local Android stores and Weibo placing a ban on anything related to LGBT (which actually has been reversed at the time of writing!).
This new regulation that took effect June 1st, 2017 is the first of its kind in China and aims to improve the national cyberspace. This Law requires all the network operators to gather and store data within China and also permits the Chinese government officials to monitor the domestic internet whenever they want. This decision should not come as a surprise to many, as for quite a few years China’s government has moved towards the localization of the internet – starting with the Great Firewall of China, which ought to control access to specific foreign internet websites and applications.
The law is applicable to the businesses within China and domestic network operators (owners, managers, providers). By the way, any company that manages their email or a cloud service falls under this category, which makes it a considerably large chunk of the economy. As for the businesses, any enterprise that is involved in information services, communications, infrastructure, finance, public services, and others, is also affected by the law. The Chinese government requires them to store data in servers within China and can access that information whenever needed.
However, the law does not only apply to the domestic companies and organizations within China but also foreign ones, which have offices in China. According to the most infamous part of the Law, all these domestic and international entities have to use networks approved by the government, meaning that unauthorized commercial VPNs are to be banned. That still has not happened yet. Thus, NordVPN continues to work smoothly as ever.
Furthermore, the Cybersecurity Law also influences the contents posted online – discussion boards, social media, microblogs, news portals, and so on. One of the goals of the Cybersecurity Law is to prevent any attempts to “spread violence, terror, false rumors, pornography and other hazards to national security, public safety, and social order.” If some of these terms sound quite vague, that’s because they are, because what constitutes as “false rumors” or “hazards to social order” are decided by the authorities and official internet censors. Ever since the Law came into effect, China has gone through waves upon waves of cyberspace “clean-ups,” which have been covered extensively by the media and also our previous articles.
Another critical point of the Law is the collection of the digital personal data of the Chinese citizens. Every person, who wishes to register on the social media in China must use their phone number, which is connected to one’s ID card. In such a way, anyone who posts something “illegal” online can be easily traced by the authorities. Not only their social media accounts are deleted, but they may also face detention if the government decides that.
Many domestic and foreign companies have been feeling increasingly nervous since the Law took effect. Although China has definite plans to get more involved in the global affairs and international trade, completely isolating the domestic internet can only backfire, as it hinders innovation and cross-border exchange of ideas.
One of the last ways for the individuals and businesses in China to remain connected to the rest of the world is to use a VPN service. If you use NordVPN on a daily basis, you will not only climb over the Firewall but also leave all the snoopers and governmental monitoring behind it. Thus, do not wait for the legislation to get even tighter, get NordVPN right now!
Also published on Medium.