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Chinese legislation directs telecom firms and ISPs to provide decryption

In an attempt to deflect terrorism, controversial new Chinese legislation calls for telecoms and Internet service providers to hand over “technical interfaces, decryption, and other technical support assistance” to public and state security agencies looking into terrorist activities, according to Article 18 of the legislation.

While there isn’t any rule mandating the addition of backdoors to widely adopted communication systems as there was in an earlier draft of the law, it still gives Chinese authorities the right to implement surveillance protocols, even on encrypted communications.

Article 19 goes even more in-depth:

“Telecommunications operators and Internet service providers shall, according to provisions of law and administrative regulations, put into practice network security systems and information content monitoring systems, technical prevention and safety measures, to avoid the dissemination of information with terrorist or extremist content.”

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Moreover, when such threatening information is found, it must be removed from publicly accessible venues and thereafter recorded and dispatched to “public security organs.” Better yet, this regulation extends beyond Chinese borders, providing that “Departments for network communications shall adopt technical measures to interrupt transmission of information with terrorist or extremist content that crosses borders online.”

Furthermore, according to Reuters, the deputy head of Chinese parliament’s criminal law division, Li Shouwei, combated some of the international criticism received by the legislation saying that the rule is “basically the same as what other major countries in the world do” including in the United States’ Freedom Act and the proposed Investigatory Powers Bill in the U.K. The latter of the two allows Internet and telecom providers to “take reasonable steps to respond to [warrants for access to encrypted communications] in an unencrypted form,” as reported by Ars Technica early last month.

Clearly, it would be hypocritical to berate China for something both the U.S. and European nations are notorious for doing ourselves.