China's cybersecurity draft law targets foreign hackers

BEIJING, China – Chinese authorities could freeze assets and take other actions against foreign hackers threatening the country’s infrastructure under a revised draft of a new cybersecurity law.

The law has been submitted for its third and final reading by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, China’s legislature, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

Xinhua says the draft would allow police and other agencies to freeze assets and apply “other necessary punishment” against foreign hackers, while also requiring expanded security measures for industries including public communications, energy and finance. Monday’s report provided no details. The legislation is expected to be passed in the coming weeks.

Cybersecurity has been a top source of friction between China and the United States, which both say they suffer hacking attacks originating from the other. Chinese officials have long characterized their country as a top victim of hacking and have called for expanded law enforcement powers and more stringent regulations on imported technology equipment.

If passed in its current form, the cybersecurity law could introduce new rules about how Chinese citizens’ data are stored and expand data access and censorship powers for law enforcement.

Foreign technology companies, particularly Silicon Valley giants with a stake in the Chinese market, also worry that the rules have a secondary motive of protecting the domestic technology sector by discouraging Chinese buyers in both the private and public sectors from purchasing foreign products.