The Chinese Foreign Ministry took special care to reassure U.S. tech firms that their new anti-terrorism measures will in no way affect or limit their business in and with China in a recent statement.
The new anti-terrorism law aims to preemptively investigate and prevent acts of terrorism in China, in light of increased tensions following the horrific terror attacks in European and Middle Eastern countries. Many U.S. tech firms expressed alarm at the new anti-terror laws in China, worrying that it could endanger their products.
The proposed law would require technology firms to install “back doors” in all their products, and also to release sensitive company information (such as encryption keys or correspondence) in case of potential terror threat. The tech firms balked at the idea of releasing this information to a third-party government, claiming that it would jeopardize their consumer’s information as well as the sensitive information of the company.
The U.S. State Department joined the tech firm executives in expressing “serious concerns” about the limitations that China’s anti-terrorism bill could inflict on U.S. tech businesses. China admonished the U.S. opponents of the bill, stating that their protestations smacked of “double standards.”
The Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hong Lei reminded The U.S. State Department and tech firm leaders of China’s recent brush with a serious terror threat. Hong explained that China was in dire need of updates to their anti-terror measures and needed to strengthen the related legal process in order to better protect themselves from future terrorist threats. “What we are doing is reasonable and fair,” Hong said in response to U.S. grumblings.
In fact, Hong outlined the laws that served as a guide for the new measures, which included using the U.S. Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act as a reference for the new Chinese law. There are several other countries with similarly operating anti-terror laws, designed to protect the country from terrorists using the Internet to plan attacks or gather information.
"The draft of our anti-terrorism law mandates the obligation of telecommunications operators, Internet servers and service providers to assist public and state security organ in stopping and probing terrorist activities," Hong continued. "This is both totally rational and necessary. This rule won't limit the lawful operations of companies, does not provide a 'back door' and will affect neither the firms' intellectual property nor Internet users' freedom of speech."
The U.S. government claims that the Chinese law could limit the freedom of speech and expression for the Chinese population, but Chinese officials assert that it’s a false argument. The U.S.’ motivations for opposing the anti-terror law is more likely financial and economic in its origins, and operating under the guise of protecting other countries’ freedoms.
The proposed anti-terrorism bill is currently in the last stages of approval, and will be run through the National People’s Congress of China before passing into law and being enacted. If the law is passed, U.S. tech firms will be expected to comply with the safety measures. It’s unclear if this could have economic repercussions yet.