On 27 December 2015, China’s National People’s Congress passed the nation’s first comprehensive law on terrorism, the People’s Republic of China Counter-Terrorism Law, which took effect on 1 January 2016.
The Counter-Terrorism Law reflects some important developments that may give some comfort to observers that their voices are being heard, without by any means removing all the concerns.
In it, terrorism is finally given a definition (albeit, a broad-ranging one), and a number of controversial provisions for technology providers in an earlier draft of the law have been removed, namely the requirements to (1) install technical portals (so-called “back doors”) that would make data accessible to Chinese authorities; (2) store China user-related servers and data onshore (i.e., a “data localization” requirement); (3) submit password/cryptographic schemes to the Chinese authorities for review; and (4) undergo pre-rollout security assessments for applications before online release.
Notwithstanding these positives, the Counter-Terrorism Law does, however, retain certain provisions that will continue to raise concerns for foreign businesses operating in China, not only in the technology space, but also in the spheres of finance, education, transport, events and real estate.
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