It is no secret that China is not known for its valuation of freedom or speech, nor is the government lenient regarding what citizens are doing on a daily basis. Terminology like the “Great Firewall of China” have a much broader meaning than most people give it credit for. Based on the country’s new anti-terror law, companies will not be forced to create backdoors in their source code, but they must offer decryption on demand.
Chinese Anti-Terrorism Law Enforces Decryption On Demand
The new anti-terrorism legislation will be applicable to all internet companies and telecoms in China. As a result of this new law, these entities will be forced to provide decryption and other technical support assistance to public and state security organs. To put this into terms anyone can understand: government and law enforcement may require these companies to decrypt certain user information, a request they will have to abide by because it is part of China’s law.
Terrorist activities are on everybody’s mind these days, as the recent Paris attacks have once again displayed nobody is safe from harm. French government even went as far as proposing to ban public Wi-Fi access during a state of heightened security, but that proposal was retracted shortly afterwards.
Additionally, popular service Tor has come under a lot scrutiny by government officials and law enforcement, as the network allows users to mask their true location and identity. However, shutting down access to these tools will only enforce widespread panic if another attack were to happen, and alternative solutions have to be found.
The new legislation in China, however, will spark privacy debates for quite some time to come. Part of the legislation mentions how Chinese authorities need to be able to to conduct surveillance operations on all types of services – including encrypted communication. While this decision is a step up from an earlier proposal to install backdoors in software source codes, the end result remains nearly identical.
Furthermore, Article 19 of the new anti-terrorism law specifies that:
“Telecommunications operators and internet service providers shall, according to provisions of law and administrative regulations, put into practice network security systems and information content monitoring systems, technical prevention and safety measures, to avoid the dissemination of information with terrorist or extremist content.”
Fighting terrorism is not an easy task, and law enforcement is forced to run after the ball for most of the time during an investigation. By being able to shut down websites of terrorism content, some effort can be undertaken to dissuade terrorists from executing their attacks. In addition, the plan is to interrupt and intercept online communication with terrorist or extremist content beyond China’s borders.
Time For Decentralized & Transparent Communication
This new legislation will not affect Bitcoin use in China by any means, even though the popular digital currency has been allegedly linked to terrorism attacks in recent months. However, none of these claims could be proven in the end, leaving it up in the air as to whether or not Bitcoin played any role in the process.
Regardless of the involvement of Bitcoin in any of these matters, the Chinese government is sending a clear signal to the rest of the world. Terrorism needs to be brought to a halt, that much everyone can agree on. Yet at the same time, these laws are setting a very dangerous precedent, and could end up being counterproductive.
Blockchain technology can help in the fight against terrorism, as it would make these types of legislation completely unnecessary. By embracing blockchain technology, decentralized communication networks can be built, while also keeping a certain level of transparency. Doing so would allow the general public to use the communication network they got used to, while also tracking any suspicious communication or activity on the network at the same time.
While most people see the blockchain as a ledger for financial transactions, its potential is much larger than that. BitCrypt is a GitHub project exploring the boundaries of using the blockchain as a way to send encrypted messages to any other Bitcoin address on the network. Projects like these put the end user in control of their communication, which is something everyone can agree on.
What are your thoughts on the new Chinese anti-terrorism law? Are you in favor of these types of solutions? Let us know in the comments below!
Source: Ars Technica
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