Expats in China to face more internet use restrictions

Published:  31 Dec at 6 PM
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Tagged: USA, China
The Chinese government is tightening its grip on the country’s internet services, including privacy issues and laws requiring ISPs to report posters of inappropriate material.

Following a further tightening by censors of restrictions on international internet access in China, new rules regarding internet usage were announced last Friday. All internet users in China must now provide their ISP with their official names, and ISPs are now forced to delete controversial postings and report the posters to the authorities.

The new regulations, enforced by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, allow users to adopt pseudonyms when posting online, but forces them to provide their true identities to their ISPs and smart-phone network providers. Politically sensitive postings are already met by arrests and jail time, with the new law making it far easier to chase and catch posters on China’s vibrant Twitter-style blogs.

Foreign businesses in China are concerned about the new regulations’ effect on the protection of commercial secrets and the need for expat employees to contact overseas websites, including those of Bloomberg and the New York Times, seen by the Chinese government as politically sensitive. Until now, China’s ISPs have been reluctant to comply with increased enforcement as they fear desertion by their customers but the new regulations show more legal teeth than those previously issued.

Of particular concern to overseas businesses based in China is the government’s increased blocking of VPNs (virtual private networks), used to encrypt communication via computer in order to protect material from spying by state-owned companies and government agencies. The VPN protocol also circumvents the blocking of Western sites covering subjects seen as politically sensitive, but is now under threat from new government identifying and blocking techniques.
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