BEIJING — China justified the drafting of its first counterterrorism law on March 4, saying that the part concerning the Internet tech firms doing business in the country is in line with laws and international practice.
The latest comment came two days after the US President Barack Obama voiced his concern that one of the articles of the draft law requires the technology firms in China to hand over encryption keys, the passcodes that protect data.
The 19th article of the draft counterterrorism law, which is still under heated discussion, will not affect the legal interests of the Internet business practitioners in China, Fu Ying, spokesperson for China’s third session of the 12th National People’s Congress (NPC), told a press conference.
The measure will only be used to prevent and investigate terrorist activities and only China’s public security and national security organs can use such information, she said.
Fu said one has to go through strict approval procedures before having access to the data.
It is common for the Western countries, such as the United States and Britain, to request tech firms to disclose encryption methods, she added.
Fu said it is a progress for the US government to follow China’s lawmaking process but Washington should make sure that it fully understands what is going on.
“We advocate a dialogue and cooperation on the basis of mutual respect in the regard of cyberspace,” she said. “There should be no ‘double standard’ in establishing the universal Internet regulation rules.”
The spokeswoman also criticized the US double standard in its policy toward Chinese companies.
The US government is imposing a lot of restrictions on Chinese companies in that country, but the US companies are developing well here in China, growing like tall trees, she said.
“We hope that the foreign companies in China can continue to support and participate in China’s reforms,” she added.
China’s annual NPC session is scheduled to open on March 5, where nearly 3,000 national lawmakers will gather in Beijing.