China to tighten control of internet users

By Nicole Miskelly | 6 August 2015

China plans to station police officers inside large internet companies in an attempt to heighten censorship and prevent criminal behaviour, according to reports.

The plan, which Chen Zhimin, the deputy minister of public security revealed at a conference in Beijing earlier this week, follows the government’s recent efforts to tighten controls on social media users and plans for a draft cyber security law that will mean that web companies will be forced to share more data with the government.

In a statement, the Ministry of Public Security said that police should be working more closely with internet regulators and take a leading role in online security. In order to do this, “network security offices” will be set up in major internet companies such as Alibaba and Tencent.

“We will set up network security offices inside important website and internet firms, so that we can catch criminal behaviour online at the earliest possible point,” Zhimin said.

The decision to use police officers inside internment companies has been announced amid reports that the US, which has been accusing China of hacking the key data of the top commercial firms, is considering retaliatory measures against the country.

In recent years authorities have been tightening controls over domestic internet usage and since social media companies such as Tencent were reprimanded for not moving fast enough over the removal of violence, pornography, rumours or politically sensitive content which goes against the Communist party, large internet companies such as Baidu have to employ censors to search their online content.

The draft cyber security law revealed only last month, will also grant authorities the power to control the internet in the country, restrict online anonymity and monitor company networks and data.

“As the country enters the internet age, network security has become a national security issue and social stability issue, important to economic development and a serious day-to-day working issue for citizens,” the ministry said in the statement.

According to the FT, Human Rights watch said: “The law will effectively put China’s internet companies, and hundreds of millions of internet users, under greater state control.”

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