December 28, 2015 (Reuters) — China has passed a controversial new anti-terrorism law that requires technology firms to help decrypt information, but not install security “backdoors” as initially planned, and allows the military to venture overseas on counter-terror operations.
Chinese officials say their country faces a growing threat from militants and separatists, especially in its unruly Western region of Xinjiang, where hundreds have died in violence in the past few years.
The law has attracted deep concern in Western capitals, not only because of worries it could violate human rights such as freedom of speech, but because of the cyber provisions. U.S. President Barack Obama has said that he had raised concerns about the law directly with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
China’s national security law adopted in July requires all key network infrastructure and information systems to be “secure and controllable”.
The anti-terrorism law also permits the People’s Liberation Army to get involved in anti-terrorism operations overseas, though experts have said China faces big practical and diplomatic problems if it ever wants to do this.
The new law also restricts the right of media to report on details of terror attacks, including a provision that media and social media cannot report on details of terror activities that might lead to imitation, nor show scenes that are “cruel and inhuman”.