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China Passes Anti-Terror Law With Controversial Cyber Provisions

China passed a controversial new anti-terrorism law on Sunday that requires technology firms to help decrypt information, but not install security "backdoors" as initially planned, and allows the military to venture overseas on counter-terror operations.

Chinese officials say their country faces a growing threat from militants and separatists, especially in its unruly Western region of Xinjiang, where hundreds have died in violence in the past few years.

The law has attracted deep concern in Western capitals, not only because of worries it could violate human rights such as freedom of speech, but because of the cyber provisions. U.S. President Barack Obama has said that he had raised concerns about the law directly with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

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While a provision in an initial draft that would require companies to keep servers and user data within China was removed from the final law, technology companies will still have to provide help with sensitive encryption information if law enforcement authorities demand it.

Speaking after China's largely rubber-stamp parliament passed the law, Li Shouwei, deputy head of the parliament's criminal law division under the legislative affairs committee, said China was simply doing what other Western nations already do in asking technology firms to help fight terror.

"This rule accords with the actual work need of fighting terrorism and is basically the same as what other major countries in the world do," Li told reporters.

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This will not affect the normal operation of tech companies and they have nothing to fear in terms of having "backdoors" installed or losing intellectual property rights, he added.

The installing of security "backdoors" was also initially mooted by China for the law.

Officials in Washington have argued the law, combined with new draft banking and insurance rules and a slew of anti-trust investigations, amounts to unfair regulatory pressure targeting foreign companies.