For years, the United States and the People’s Republic of China have not seen eye-to-eye on certain issues. As cyberterrorism becomes a global pandemic, China is taking precautions to ensure its country’s safety, while the U.S. opposes the proposal.

China's proposed new anti-terror law relating to cybersurveillance has sparked quite the debate with members of the U.S. government. A parliamentary spokeswoman for China attempted to play down the impact the anti-terror legislation might have on foreign tech businesses.

If the law is passed, foreign tech companies would have to hand over their encryption keys to Chinese authorities, and create “back doors” into their systems for government surveillance access.

The first draft of the proposed law was aired late last year before the National People's Congress and also asks companies to keep servers and user data within China and give law enforcement communications records. A second draft of the law was read last week and the proposal is expected to be adopted in the near future.

Speaking with Reuters, President Barack Obama said that he has sincerely “urged the country” to change its position on the proposed law, and even went directly to China’s president to raise issues with the matter. “We have made it very clear to them that this is something they are going to have to change if they are to do business with the United States,” Obama said. Fu Ying, a spokeswoman for China’s National People’s Congress, said that Obama and the U.S. “probably misunderstands” the proposed regulations.

“This approach is also common with international practice,” Fu said, “and will not affect the legitimate interests of Internet firms.” The Chinese government is asking in the legislation that to prevent and investigate terrorist activities, it must be allowed to leverage Internet and telecommunications technology. “Only Chinese security forces will be privy to the surveillance data,” Fu claims. “In reality, the U.S., U.K., and other Western countries have spent many years demanding that tech companies disclose their encryption methods,” she also mentioned.

That is a point which has been a mark of contention, as the United States, in particular, has faced controversy for spying on communications across the world. This includes China, according to leaks posted onto the Julian Assange-run website, WikiLeaks, by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. In light of such developments, China has made cybersecurity a national priority. The country’s new regulations might keep the country safer from outside prying eyes, but it also has the potential to stop U.S. tech businesses from choosing to come into their markets.

“The U.S. tends to treat Chinese companies with this kind of attention and restriction often, according to the views from our businesses,” Fu said.

With that in mind, the points and counterpoints will be argued until a resolution has been reached.

Photo: Jeon Han | Flickr

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