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China Moves to Increase Cybersecurity, Adding Internet Restrictions

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By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. on July 13, 2015 12:01 PM

Recognizing the connection between national security and cybersecurity, China is proposing strong new cybersecurity laws. China is often accused of waging cyberattacks on other governments, including the recent hacking of the Office of Personnel Management's database which effected the information of 22.1 million Americans. But, the country says it is also a frequent victim of "cyberwarfare," and its new laws seek to beef up the nation's defenses.

As an added bonus, the new laws will also give the Chinese government increased control over its citizens' Internet use.

A New Set of Standards for China

The draft law seeks to create a unified cybersecurity monitoring and response policy for the government. Chinese agencies will be required to establish monitoring and alert systems as well as emergency response systems. The proposed law also requires authorities to define "national and industrial standards" for technology vendors, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Those new standards should have a big impact on foreign companies. Recently, China proposed cybersecurity rules for the banking industry which, foreign banks claimed, were designed to shut out foreign competition. The government withdrew those proposed regulations but may take equally protectionist approaches with its new cybersecurity standards.

Of course, cybersecurity also means government security and the Chinese Communist Party is taking advantage of the opportunity to strengthen its control over Internet use. China is already famous for its "Great Firewall," its many attempts to control access to and content on Chinese Internet. Government surveillance and restrictions are common and so strong that Google withdrew from the massive Chinese market. The draft cybersecurity measures make that Great Firewall even greater, granting the government the right to shut down Internet access during "emergencies."

Hacking and Getting Hacked in China

China is often accused of waging cyberwarfare against foreign governments and competitors. U.S. investigators believe that Chinese government was responsible for the recent OPM hack, according to the Washington Post. That data breach, which released sensitive information on those who had undergone a federal background check, is expected to cause national security problems for decades.

But China is also a frequent victim of hacking. Last December, for example, china's rail system was hacked and passengers' personal information stolen. In order to increase data security, the new law requires permission before providers can gather personal data and institutes breach notification requirements. Oh, and the government mandates that all "crucial" information infrastructure be stored in Chinese territory -- for safety reasons, of course.

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