China Moves to Tighten Data Controls

China is on the verge of requiring telecommunications companies and Internet service providers to halt and report leaks of what the government deems to be state secrets, the latest in a series of moves intended to strengthen the government’s control over private communications. The proposed amendment to the state secrets law, reported Tuesday by the state news media, defines a state secret broadly and loosely as information that, if disclosed, would damage China’s security or interests in political, economic, defense and other realms. The amendment was submitted Monday to the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, China’s legislature, for a third reading, the final step before being signed into law. Few measures reach that point in China without being adopted. The wording of the amendment, as cited by the state-controlled newspaper China Daily, suggested that Internet and telecommunications companies would have to take a more proactive stance in identifying leaks of state secrets and their sources. The paper said companies must detect, report and delete unauthorized disclosures. But reports by the state-run news agency Xinhua seemed less definitive about whether the companies must independently scour online transmissions for forbidden information or simply cooperate with the authorities if they suspect transgressions


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