Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

China Passes Far-Reaching Surveillance Bill

Chris Buckley, New York Times:

Critics had said that the draft version of the law used a recklessly broad definition of terrorism, gave the government new censorship powers and authorized state access to sensitive commercial data.

The government argued that the measures were needed to prevent terrorist attacks. Opponents countered that the new powers could be abused to monitor peaceful citizens and steal technological secrets.

In the end, the approved law published by state media dropped demands in the draft version that would have required Internet companies and other technology suppliers to hand over encryption codes and other sensitive data for official vetting before they went into use.

Buckley’s reporting runs counter to Ben Blanchard’s, for Reuters, who says that the passed bill does require tech companies to hand over encryption keys. Regardless, this bill doesn’t swerve too much from laws already in place in the United States, especially after CISA was snuck into the budget bill recently signed into law.

Tech companies’ reliance upon China’s manufacturing infrastructure isn’t a problem per se, even in light of this legislation, but even if they were, they wouldn’t necessarily gain an advantage by making products in the U.S. If anything, the troubling details of the initial drafts of this bill and the reception it received from the White House paint a contradictory position to views previously espoused by this and previous American administrations. It’s apparently alright if the U.S. wishes to snoop on the world, but if China does it, it’s a national crisis. There’s only one antidote to that viewpoint, and it’s to cut it off at the source: mass surveillance is not — and should never — be considered okay, by anybody.