China has proposed to further tighten control over the internet by setting up a new commission to vet hardware and internet services, Beijing's internet regulator said Tuesday.
In Nov. 2016, Beijing had adopted a controversial cyber security law to counter increasing threats related to hacking and terrorism over the internet. However, the adoption triggered serious concerns among foreign businesses and several human rights groups. Mark Austen, chief executive of the Asia Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, told a forum in Hong Kong in November that the law marked a "worrying" development because regulators globally have to work together to address cyber risks rather than attempt to isolate their jurisdictions.
The new rules drafted by China's internet regulator, released over the weekend, put forward the proposal of establishing an intra-departmental body to examine and coordinate policies nationwide.
Although, China has not made it clear about when the intra-departmental body will be set up. The proposed rules have been made available for public comment until March 4, 2017.
The new commission that is being planned would look into matters that risks or pose threats against national security and also stop the Communist Party and government departments from buying online products that have not been approved by the body in advance.
Critics overseas had commented on China's decision to exercise control over the internet. "I think these regulations are about content hosted in China. It can be that they expand in the future," said Rogier Creemers, a lecturer on Chinese politics at Oxford University. He also pointed out that if the rules applied to all websites, they would eliminate access overnight to a huge chunk of the Internet.
However, China has defended its decision since the time it had adopted a cyber security law in 2016 and mentioned that the controls are necessary to safeguard national security and social stability.
China has been keeping a close watch over the internet previously and it had also blocked popular foreign websites including Facebook and Google and any other comments on the social media that came across as harmful.