Under new cybersecurity law, companies in China will store your connecting ip address for six months

Posted on Nov 8, 2016 by Caleb Chen
china great firewall

China today passed a new cybersecurity law that is designed to combat foreign hackers and strengthen China’s position as an “internet power.” What China’s new cybersecurity bill will actually do is increase the number of Chinese VPN users. The law will require Chinese companies to de-anonymize their users, store that data in China, and provide the data (and even technical support) to Chinese authorities. What’s more, the law also codifies the ability for China to shut down large swaths of the Internet, “legally,” something that the communist government has been seeking for a long time. This is the same regime that judges its citizens based on their “social credit score.” Across the world, Turkey has been using its own similar cybersecurity law to block access to social media and to call for the ban of VPNs and Tor.

The laws are designed to crack down on online anonymity. China’s new cybersecurity law passes the buck of many surveillance responsibilities onto Chinese companies. For instance, Chinese instant messaging apps and internet services will only be allowed to accept registrations from people that provide their real identity. Additionally, the Chinese government now mandates that the companies to do the censoring of any prohibited content, and presumably face the consequences if such censorship doesn’t happen automatically or fast enough. What’s more, Chinese companies will also be forced to help China in obtaining and executing the internet killswitch that China has always wanted.

Chinese ISPs will be forced to keep IP address logs for six months

For the average Chinese Internet user, the worst part is yet to come. The law also forces network operators to keep logs for six months at a minimum. China already has a Great Firewall, which countries like the United Kingdom are trying to emulate, but mandating these internet connection records (ICRs) is the trove of metadata that the Chinese government needs to exert full control. The amount of countries with official internet connection records which detail your IP address’s adventures on the open Internet is growing seemingly day by day.

Human Rights Watch’s China Director, Sophie Richardson, also sees problems with the new cybersecurity laws. She commented:

“The law will effectively put China’s Internet companies, and hundreds of millions of Internet users, under greater state control… If online speech and privacy are a bellwether of Beijing’s attitude toward peaceful criticism, everyone – including netizens in China and major international corporations – is now at risk,”

Richardson concluded:

“The already heavily censored Internet in China needs more freedom, not less.”