Chinese police can officially demand user data from ISPs

Chinese authorities now have permission to go to any internet company and demand a citizen’s internet history if they deem it linked to cybersecurity.

Ke Xin Ruan/EyeEm

The sky, as they say, is the limit, especially when it comes to China’s stranglehold on its internet.

From November onward, internet service providers must fork over data on citizens’ internet histories if the country’s public security personnel deem it related to cybersecurity, according to a statement posted on the public security ministry’s website last month. Police may also conduct inspections on internet service providers, either on site or remotely.

Some of that data could include a user’s registration information and internet logs. The inspectors may also assess a company’s precautionary measures against cyberattacks and the spread of illegal content, and its technical support and assistance to public security in regard to safeguarding national security, criminal investigations and terrorist activities, according to the statement.

Managers must comply with any request for information in order to identify possible network security vulnerabilities. But the police in return must provide advanced notice of when an inspection will take place to avoid possible property damage caused during an inspection.

The new rule comes nearly two years after a cybersecurity bill implemented on foreign companies triggered widespread concern Chinese authorities have too much access to user data. Amid their crackdown on the internet, police jailed internet users over personal WeChat conversations. Meanwhile Apple was required to build a data center in the mainland for storing Chinese user data. The data center is now managed by state-owned telecom company, China Telecom, a move hit by criticism from Chinese users.

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