New Chinese law takes aim at encryption

If requested, service providers must help the government decrypt content

A new law passed by China's Parliament on Sunday requires technology companies to assist the government in decrypting content, a provision that the country maintains is modeled after Western law.

ISPs and telecommunication companies must provide technical assistance to the government, including decrypting communications, for terrorism-related investigations, according to Xinhua, China's official news agency.

Xinhua quoted Li Shouwei, of the National People's Congress Standing Committee legislative affairs commission, as saying the law doesn't require technology companies to install "backdoors," the term for code that would give security agencies consistent, secret access to data, in software.

The law comes into force in January, according to a separate Xinhua story. China officials said the law is necessary for conducting anti-terrorisms operations, but critics worry it could have far-reaching impacts in a country with a much-criticized human rights record. There are also concerns over how the law will impact Western technology companies in China.

ISPs and service providers can also face a fine or jail time if they fail to stop transmitting content that is considered extremist or related to terrorism, Xinhua reported.

In the U.S., technology companies have been fighting increasing calls from lawmakers to engineer systems that can allow easier access by law enforcement.

Many companies have moved ahead in designing systems in which they do not retain a decryption key for scrambled data. That makes it more difficult for law enforcement and security agencies to decrypt communications without knowing a person's passcode or password. 

There is also fierce opposition to building backdoors into software products, which security experts contend could be discovered and abused by hackers or state-sponsored cyber spies.

The move to build more secure systems gained momentum after documents leaked in 2013 by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed large-scale data collection operations by Western intelligence agencies, including the U.S. and U.K.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jeremy Kirk

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Bang and Olufsen Beosound Stage - Dolby Atmos Soundbar

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

ASUS ROG, ACRONYM partner for Special Edition Zephyrus G14

Learn more >

Sony WF-1000XM3 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Nakamichi Delta 100 3-Way Hi Fi Speaker System

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit for Nintendo Switch

Learn more >

Philips Sonicare Diamond Clean 9000 Toothbrush

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

SunnyBunny Snowflakes 20 LED Solar Powered Fairy String

Learn more >

Teac 7 inch Swivel Screen Portable DVD Player

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?