China will soon require companies to let it bypass their encryption

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Despite the numerous protests of Western technology companies, and even a warning from President Obama himself, China’s legislature voted unanimously to pass the country’s controversial new anti-terrorism law. As with most laws that claim to be designed to combat terrorism and protect civilians, the new bill will give the Chinese government even more power of its citizens when it goes into effect on January 1st. Basically, the bill will force technology companies to hand their encryption keys and passwords over to the government whenever its requests them.

China’s governing body has passed its first-ever counter-terrorism bill, which it says will help address rising terror threats at home and boost international security. An Weixing, an official with the public security ministry, told journalists Sunday that terror attacks were a rising issue in China. “Terrorist attacks have caused heavy losses of people’s lives and properties, posing a serious threat to our security, stability, economic development and ethnic unity,” the state-run Xinhua news agency quoted the official as saying. However, some analysts feel that the purpose of the bill is aimed at control of the Chinese population, rather than curbing domestic and international terrorism. “In my opinion they’re using the pretext of what is occurring globally as efforts to increase their control over the domestic population,” James Leibold, senior lecturer in Chinese politics at Australia’s La Trobe University, told CNN. A draft of the law concerned foreign governments — including the Obama administration — the business sector, particularly tech companies, and human rights organizations, which say it uses a too-broad definition of terror, allowing Chinese authorities increased powers of surveillance.

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