China defends its new anti-encryption law

China argues new laws are necessary to keep citizens safe. Photo: Apple

China argues new laws are necessary to keep citizens safe. Photo: Apple

China’s Foreign Ministry said today that U.S. tech companies have nothing to fear from the country’s new anti-terrorism law, which could require companies to create “back doors” in products, or to hand over encryption information to the Chinese government.

The law — which is currently having a reading at China’s parliament, the National People’s Congress — is significant because of what an important market China is for many tech companies. For instance, during last Sunday’s 60 Minutes episode, “Inside Apple,” Apple CEO Tim Cook reiterated his belief that China will soon be Apple’s largest (and therefore most important) market.

Despite having asked for similar things, the U.S. government has expressed “serious concerns” about what China is asking for with its new law — prompting China to point out the hypocrisy involved.

“What we are doing is reasonable and fair,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei. “While formulating this law, we referred to the laws of other countries, including the United States.”

Washington officials have argued that China’s law is unfair regulation targeting foreign companies.

Apple has previously had to make acquiescences to China, such as switching over to using China Telecom’s servers instead of its own to power iCloud for Chinese customers. This followed the Chinese state-controlled media recently lashing out at Apple over national security concerns.

News of China’s new law follows shortly after Apple objected to the U.K.’s draft Investigatory Powers Bill, a.k.a. the “snooper’s charter,” arguing that it could “hurt law-abiding citizens.”

We’ve yet to hear how other device makers will respond to the news.

Source: Reuters