Sunday

9th Dec 2018

Focus

EU businesses concerned by China snooping law

  • China wants companies to help it to decrypt online information (Photo: Bernd Thaller)

The European Union's main business representative in China said Monday (28 December) it still had concerns over the country's new anti-terrorism law, although the final text had removed some of the most worrying provisions.

The new rules were adopted on Sunday (27 December) by China's National People's Congress, the country's national parliament, which has little power of its own and mainly rubber-stamps legislation.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

Both the EU and the US had expressed concerns that the law could curtail freedom of expression and association, but China has accused critics of double standards.

Under the new rules, technology companies are required to help Chinese authorities decrypt information sent via the Internet.

However, a provision from the draft, which would require them to install “backdoors” in their software from the outset, was dropped.

“The European Chamber [of Commerce in China] recognises the positive developments in terms of removing the language that required the submission of encryption codes and server/data localization from the final version,” the business organisation said according to Reuters.

“Some concerns remain over issues such as market access, intellectual property rights, and the obligation to monitor, report and censor terrorist content,” it added.

The Americans are also not completely convinced, , deputy spokesperson for the state department Mark Toner said Monday (28 December).

“[The] United States remains concerned that the broad, vaguely phrased provisions and definitions in this law – speaking about the counterterrorism law – could lead to greater restrictions on the exercise of freedoms of expression, association, peaceful assembly, and religion within China.”

According to China's foreign ministry, the law is necessary and “justified”.

Just like other countries, China wants to be able to control online communications if they are being used by terrorists, China's spokesperson for foreign affairs, Hong Lei, said last Wednesday (23 December).

“With the development of information technology, the Internet has been increasingly used by terrorists as a major tool to organize, plot and conduct terrorist activities. It is imperative for us to prevent and crack down on cyber-enabled terrorist crimes by enhancing relevant institutional measures,” said Hong.

He accused the US, the most vocal critic of the law, of exercising “double standards”.

“For example, in the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act and other relevant laws, the US states in explicit terms that relevant companies shall offer assistance to law enforcement agencies in lawful interception and decryption of encrypted communication,” noted Hong.

After the law was passed, parliamentarian Li Shouwei said the new rules were similar to those in Western countries.

“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 said according to Reuters.

The wish to have access to encryption keys, needed to decrypt secret messages, is by no means exclusively Chinese.

Almost a year ago, the EU's counter-terrorism coordinator Gilles de Kerchove proposed exactly what China is now introducing.

After the attack on the Charlie Hebdo office in Paris, UK prime minister David Cameron said British spy agencies needed to be able to break encrypted communications.

Divided EU debates China market economy status

The EU Commission will, on Wednesday, debate the sensitive issue of China “market economy status,” with nerves jangling in European industry over cheap Chinese goods.

EU-China cooperation on CO2 storage lost in limbo

A long-standing cooperation between the EU and China on carbon capture and storage has fallen off the political agenda – with the European Commission not having any comment available when asked for an update.

News in Brief

  1. Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer wins CDU leadership election
  2. Huawei hits back at EU commissioner warning
  3. EU digital commissioner 'worried' on Huawei situation
  4. EU adopts controversial definition of 'antisemitism'
  5. France braces for weekend riots
  6. Italy's 'Salvini decree' renders migrants homeless
  7. Latvia rejects UN migrant pact
  8. EU's new 10,000 border guard force may not be 'feasible'

Stakeholder

An open China brings opportunities to Europe

Some 60 years ago, the first major World Fair after World War II was held in Brussels. Sixty years on, China International Import Expo (CIIE), the first world expo dedicated to expanding imports, will open in Shanghai, China.

Supported by

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Latest News

  1. Merkel loyalist AKK wins CDU leadership battle
  2. Brexit vote and Merkel's successor top This Week
  3. Brexit, migration, cities - and the UN pact
  4. EU Commission spins half-truth on 'unsafe' refugee boats
  5. COP24 Nordic Pavilion: sharing climate solutions with the world
  6. From Malta to Poland: each EU state to have AI strategy
  7. Hungary and Poland: EU capitals of homophobia
  8. Austerity did not help Italy - maybe spending will?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs
  2. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  3. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  5. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  6. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  8. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  10. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us