Quoted: on China, the U.S. and installing backdoors

“With transparent procedures, China’s anti-terrorism campaign will be different from what the United States has done: letting the surveillance authorities run amok and turn counter-terrorism into paranoid espionage and peeping on its civilians and allies.”

Xinhua, China’s state-run news agency, addressing President Obama’s criticism earlier this week of a proposed Chinese law that would require tech companies doing business in that nation to install backdoors in their software and turn over their encryption keys. “Contrary to the accusations of the United States, China’s anti-terror law will put no unfair regulatory pressures on foreign companies, because the provisions will apply to both domestic and foreign firms,” Xinhua also wrote.

Chinese officials’ comments were less harsh but also mentioned a double standard.

The BBC reports: Fu Ying, parliamentary spokeswoman, pointed out that the U.S. government had imposed restrictions on Chinese companies it considered potential security threats, such as Huawei and ZTE. She also said Beijing’s proposals were in line with the same kind of access to online communications sought by the U.S and British governments.

There are, of course, the U.S. and U.K. mass spying programs revealed by the Edward Snowden leaks. In response to those revelations, some tech companies have stepped up encryption efforts, which U.S. law enforcement and government officials have complained about, saying they could hinder crime-fighting and anti-terrorism efforts.

“Either behind the scenes or increasingly openly, the U.S. and U.K. are justifying similar behavior for their own purposes, but are extremely concerned when China asks for its own capabilities,” said Dr. Joss Wright of the Oxford Internet Institute, according to the BBC.

The discussion over China’s proposed law — which would affect U.S. companies such as Cisco and Microsoft — comes after a report last week that China has dumped some U.S. tech products, including those made by Apple, Cisco and Intel, from its state-approved purchase lists.


Photo: President Obama this week urged the Chinese government to make changes to a proposed law that would affect American tech companies. (Associated Press archives)


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