China's new law is designed to improve cyber-security, but what is the real goal?

Chinese government readies internet censorship law

China’s parliament is preparing a cyber-security law that will elevate the government’s powers to access records and block the dissemination of private information.

The draft law, originally published on Monday but only reported by Chinese media on Wednesday, would require internet service providers to store all data collected within China on Chinese territory and force users to use their real names when logging onto internet services.

The official goal of the regulation is to increase users’ privacy protection and defence against hackers and data resellers, but it will technically give the government the power to block distribution of information considered illegal under Chinese law.

The law would also require all network equipment used in the country to be approved under testing standards issued by the government.

The legislation, prompted by what China calls the need to "safeguard national cyberspace sovereignty, security and development," is a milestone in China's effort to bolster its network against what it sees as threats to the country's stability.

Earlier this month, China's parliament passed an all-encompassing national security law that tightened government control over politics, culture, the military, the economy, technology and the environment.

The parliament said government agencies would issue additional guidelines for network security in ‘critical industries’ such as telecoms, energy, transport, finance, national defence and military matters, government administration and other sensitive fields.

The new law is widely perceived as being directed against major American internet companies.

The parliament will hear feedback on the proposed legislation until August 5 2015. 

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