China restricting hacking laws

China’s police are working with the country’s highest investigative organ and the Supreme People’s Court to release a judicial interpretation on hacking crimes, according to the People’s Daily, the official paper of the Communist Party, citing a Chinese police representative. The report gave no details, but such documents are used to direct lower-level Chinese courts on how to apply laws.

The move would be the latest of China’s efforts to strengthen laws against cybercrime, which have come alongside a growing number of reported arrests and court sentences for hacking in the country in the last year.

The report comes after Google last month drew global attention to hacking in China by saying it had been hit by cyberattacks from the country. Google cited the attacks, which resulted in the loss of intellectual property, as one reason it plans to stop censoring its China-based search engine, even if the move forces it to shut down its China offices.

China’s national political advisory body has also called for changes to a law on online information safety and other measures intended to reduce cybercrime, according to the state-run China News Service.

China late last year released a tort law that touches on privacy issues and requires Internet service providers to take action when an individual is using the network to violate someone’s civil rights. The providers should take steps including deletion and blocking when they receive a complaint about infringement of a victim’s rights, according to the law.

Chinese media saw the law partly as a move against China’s “human flesh searches,” in which a mass of Internet users dig up and post online information about a victim, sometimes after stealing the information. Such searches are often directed against people seen to have committed an immoral act such as cheating on a spouse.

Earlier last year , China passed its first regulations protecting the public from cyber data theft. It later issued a set of regulations that called for measures by the country’s telecom network operators and other bodies to fight problems including botnets and false information used to register domain names.

China has often been blamed for cyberattacks worldwide, though it is difficult to trace hacking activity within the country and attackers in other countries could also launch attacks from a Chinese IP (Internet Protocol) address.

Crimes like data theft through computer malware and attacks meant to paralyze a victim’s servers are also a problem in China itself. One cyberattack last year ended up taking down Internet access for several hours in certain Chinese provinces.

Story by: Owen Fletcher, IDG News Service

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