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Leaders from the tech industry gathering in Wuzhen, China, this week for the third World Internet Conference should send a clear message to the Chinese government that they are not prepared to be complicit in the widespread abuse of the rights to freedom of expression and privacy.

The conference comes a week after China’s legislature rubber-stamped a draconian new Cyber Security Law which would require any tech company operating in China to undertake unprecedented levels of censorship and pass on personal information to the authorities with insufficient safeguards to protect freedom of expression and the right to privacy.

“Tech companies attending the World Internet Conference must have the courage to speak out against the new Cyber Security Law. This draconian law codifies abusive practices and takes censorship to a level not previously seen in China,” said Patrick Poon, China researcher at Amnesty International.

“The law poses a real threat to the global and open nature of the internet. Companies considering operating under such terms would become de facto surveillance agents of the authorities, and in doing so place individuals legitimately exercising their rights at risk.”

Amnesty International’s analysis of the new law also finds that:

  • Internet sovereignty as described in the new law poses a real threat to an open and global internet.
  • Companies would be required to provide the authorities access to ‘critical infrastructure,’ without sufficient safeguards.
  • Companies face fines, suspension or termination if they don’t comply with the authorities’ requests.
  • Companies complying with the new law would risk contributing to human rights violations, contrary to their responsibilities.

Amnesty International’s submission to the National People’s Congress Standing Committee on a previously published draft of the cyber-security law can be found here.