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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

China lawmakers review revised state secrets law
Christian Ehret at 2:41 PM ET

[JURIST] Chinese lawmakers on Monday reviewed a revised version of a state secrets [JURIST news archive] law which aims to update existing legislation to address Internet leaks of classified data. A draft of the amended Law on Guarding State Secrets [text] was passed by the Chinese State Council in April and is now being considered [Xinhua report] by the Standing Committee of the 11th National People's Congress (NPC) [official profile]. The revised law will prohibit devices containing confidential information from being connected to the Internet and stipulates measures to protect other sensitive information from public connections. Although most of the leaks are unintentional, those caught intentionally disclosing state secrets are usually executed [China Daily report]. The NPC found that online communications accounted for more than 70 percent of leaked state secrets, and leaks have reportedly occurred after plugging flash drives into computers. The Chinese government has previously asserted that they will be able to maintain a commitment to transparency [Xinhua report] while still protecting secrets.

The proposed legislation follows recent controversy over Internet censorship in China. Last week, Chinese authorities tried to alleviate concerns over Internet filtering software [JURIST report] by stating that computer users will not be required to use the controversial program, despite it being packaged with new computers. The statements expressed that the government has no intention of punishing people who do not use the software. Earlier this month, the policy had been challenged [JURIST report] by Chinese human rights lawyer Li Fangping, who demanded public hearings to determine if such a requirement were lawful and reasonable. The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) [official website, in Chinese] oversees Internet censorship, while the State Council Information Office and the Communist Party's Propaganda Department determines the scope of what is blocked.






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