New Regulations Appear To Authorize Chinese Law Enforcement To Hack Into Computers Anywhere In The World

from the everyone's-doing-it dept

A recurrent theme here on Techdirt has been the way in which the West has ceded the moral high ground in so many areas involving the tech world. For example, in 2010, we noted that the US had really lost the right to point fingers over Internet censorship. The moral high ground on surveillance went in 2013 for people, and in 2014 for economic espionage. Meanwhile, the UK has been shown to be as bad as the most disreputable police states in its long-running blanket surveillance of all its citizens.

The UK's most recent move to cast off any pretense that it is morally superior to other "lesser" nations is the Investigatory Powers Act, which formalizes all the powers its intelligence services have been secretly using for years. One of the most intrusive of those is the power to carry out what is quaintly termed "equipment interference" -- hacking -- anywhere in the world. That means it certainly won't be able to criticize some new rules in China, spotted by the Lawfare blog:

The regulations seem to authorize the unilateral extraction of data concerning anyone (or any company) being investigated under Chinese criminal law from servers and hard drives located outside of China.

Article 9 of the 2016 regulations provides that the police or prosecutors may extract digital data from original storage media (e.g., servers, hard drives) that are located outside of mainland China (i.e., including servers in Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan) "through the Internet" and may perform "remote network inspections" of such computer information systems. Remote network inspections are helpfully defined, in Article 29, as "investigation, discovery, and collection of electronic data from remote computer information systems related to crime through the Internet." The only caveat to this grant of authority is a requirement that investigations be subject to "strict standards." No guidance is provided as to what "strict" means.

On its face, the regulation indicates that Chinese officials have authorization to remotely search or extract data anywhere in the world, subject only to the limitations of [China's] domestic law.

If the idea of Chinese government agents hacking into your computer doesn't appeal, well, tough luck: the West is doing it too, so there's really nothing governments there can say that isn't deeply hypocritical. That won't stop them, of course, and it may lead to some nasty international name-calling that could escalate dangerously.

The fact that pretty much all the main players are hacking everyone else like crazy is yet another argument for not weakening encryption anywhere. However much certain politicians might want magic crypto systems that only let in the good guys and always keep out the bad guys -- perhaps by invoking the necessary hashtags -- they simply don't exist. Morever, the supposedly clear-cut distinction between good guys and bad guys has been blurred so completely by decades of the West losing the moral high ground here that it's not a very useful way of framing things anyway.

Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and +glynmoody on Google+

Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team

Filed Under: china, hacking


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Apr 2017 @ 12:22pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Moral High Ground

    "If the colonies refused to give up slavery, then they should not have allowed in, it really is that simple. Hindsight does not play in to it at all. Simple ethics and humanity does."

    Say what? The colonies were here first. And the colonies where the ones forming the Government, NOT a Government taking control of the Colonies. I am not sure you understand how this works. Where did you get your education? A Crackerjack box?

    "All that is needed for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing."

    Wow, FINALLY something we can agree on.

    "Kicking it down to your ancestors to fix your fuckups is quintessentially American, I will give you that."

    You have already made it clear that you are very ignorant of American History. It must be easy to sit there with your ignorance and trash talk a group of people that lived in those times like you could have done better. In all reality, there is a likely hood that you would have been one of the racists because you rattle off ideals like you know what they are. You don't, you just have the ability to parrot ideas and maxims.

    If American Christians were so racist then why would they slowly work to set the slaves free? Black slaves did not set themselves free did they? Do you know of any black people elected to Congress at the time? White people, including elected politicians had to stand up and say... hey, this is bullshit and our Constitution agrees that this is bullshit so lets start the process of putting these injustices to rest.

    The constitution did not apply to the states in the beginning. It only prevented the Federal Government from taking peoples or states rights away, it did nothing to stop the states from taking citizens rights away in the least.

    Only a blithering fool thinks they could have turned a racist group of states/colonies into a slave free society like that. You need some mental help or something because that is insanity! What is wrong with you?

    You don't understand a thing, and someone that understands nothing will only get in the way of real solutions because you are not capable of producing them!

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Make this the First Word or Last Word. No thanks. (get credits or sign in to see balance)    
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Special Affiliate Offer

Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Recent Stories

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it
Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.