China mulls new commission to monitor internet risks

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A proposed new cyber security watchdog will prevent online products and services from being manipulated by foreign forces and safeguard Party and government departments and key industries from national security threats, experts said.

The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) is seeking the public’s opinion on a draft regulation of online products and services that will see China set up an Internet security review body to examine policies and coordinate nationwide practices on cyber security.

“I’d expect the watchdog to examine technical loopholes in online products, their supply chains and the social backgrounds behind the enterprises,” said Xie Yongjiang, deputy director of the Institute of Internet Governance and Law at the Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications.

Because China now still heavily relies on foreign core technology, the Web review body will examine loopholes that may have been intentionally installed into online products or services, which might pose a threat to national security, Xie told the Global Times on Sunday.

“Controlling cyberspace also empowers China with trade countermeasures against foreign nations which impose measures on Chinese enterprises,” said Xie, adding that different from traditional quality inspections, the reviews of these products will involve factors that might pose national security risks.

According to South China Morning Post, Beijing has also adopted a controversial cybersecurity law, which requires “operators of critical information infrastructure” to store personal information and important business data within the Chinese mainland. It has also launched a nationwide campaign against unauthorised internet connections, including virtual private networks that allow users to bypass internet regulators.

The cyberspace administration earlier vowed to help ensure the online environment was conducive to a major Communist Party congress to be held later this year.

Beijing has also adopted a controversial cybersecurity law, which requires “operators of critical information infrastructure” to store personal information and important business data within the Chinese mainland. It has also launched a nationwide campaign against unauthorised internet connections, including virtual private networks that allow users to bypass internet regulators.

“Key information infrastructure include things like operation systems of key offices of the state and the party,” Zuo said.

Screening such services and products was a common ­practice in other countries, Zuo said.

“Many countries screen information products and services because of security concerns, though they might not call it censorship,” Zuo said, pointing to the difficulties telecoms equipment makers ZTE and Huawei have encountered in the United States.

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