24th Session Watch Pt. 2: China Set to Pass New Cybersecurity Law (UPDATED)

Update: China Law Translate has posted the full text of the 3rd Draft with English translation.

Confirming your author’s prior suspicion, the character “等” in the press release mentioned in Part I did signify an additional item on the agenda of this NPCSC session. According to the official agenda of the 24th Session released on Monday and related news reports, the draft Cybersecurity Law has also been submitted to this Session for its third reading, and the NPC Law Committee has recommended that this Session pass the law. Therefore, it’s almost certain that, by the end of the 8-day session, the Cybersecurity Law will be a new addition to the Chinese legal system.

New Changes Made in the New Draft

As is the customary practice, new drafts of laws, including those scheduled for a vote, aren’t released until after the NPCSC session in question concludes. Still, Xinhua usually publishes articles summarizing new changes introduced in new drafts. The following is a summary of this Xinhua article on the third draft for deliberation (3rd Draft) of the Cybersecurity Law:

  1. The 3rd Draft clarifies the scope of “key information infrastructures” under Article 29 of the second draft for deliberation (2nd Draft). Such industries and fields as public communications and information service, energy, transportation, water resources, finance, public service, and e-government service now fall into this special class of infrastructures that will receive special protection by the State.
  2. The 3rd Draft gives law enforcement power to punish attacks on key information infrastructures from abroad. According to the draft, the public security department (i.e., the Ministry of Public Security) and other relevant departments under the State Council can freeze the assets of or impose other sanctions on overseas organizations or persons who “engage in activities that attack, intrude, interfere with, or sabotage” China’s key information infrastructures, resulting in “serious consequences.”
  3. The 3rd Draft outlaws a series of online activities, in particular online fraud. Also made illegal by the draft are setting up websites or communication groups to “teach methods of committing crimes, to manufacture or sell illegal products or controlled products,” or to engage in other criminal or illegal activities; and spreading on the Internet information related to these criminal or illegal activities.
  4. The 3rd Draft adds provisions to provide legal basis for enacting regulations on protecting minors online.
  5. The 3rd Draft loosens a requirement on storing network logs. A provision (Article 20, Item 3) first introduced in the 2nd Draft requires network operators to “store network logs for no less than six months.” According to Xinhua, based on the opinions of some Internet companies, the requirement has been altered so that only “relevant” network logs, as defined by “regulations (规定),” need to be stored for at least six months.

The above changes are likely to stay in the final version.

Other Updates

In line with this Blog’s previous predictions, the NPC Law Committee has also recommended at the first plenary meeting of the 24th Session that the NPCSC pass the draft amendments to the Private Education Promotion Law and the Marine Environmental Protection Law, and the draft Film Industry Promotion Law.

The NPCSC also released a detailed daily schedule for this Session. There won’t be any breaks during the 8-day session.

Lastly, we expect the NPCSC to hold a press conference on November 7 on the laws passed. This Blog will cover the press conference should there be any new developments on those laws.

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