New China web rules 'could block all domains outside country'

31/03/2016

China is planning new rules which would require firms that serve domestic internet users to register their web addresses inside the country - a move which has raised concerns among foreign businesses.

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The rules are found in Article 37 of the ministry's proposed update to a set of decade-old internet laws.

The new measures are outlined in the ‘Internet Domain Name Management Rules’ are unclear, but indicate increased censorship on online content in China.

The proposals, released for public comment last week by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, look to update existing regulations to censor any domain names not registered within China.

Only domain names approved by authorities would be permitted, while other names registered outside of China would be blocked automatically, the paper says.

Analysts said the main targets appear to be Chinese internet companies which store their content domestically but keep their web addresses registered overseas with reputable international firms for security purposes.

In an interview with the New York Times, Zhu Wei, deputy director of the Communications Law Research Center at the China University of Political Science and Law in Beijing, expressed concern regarding the wide-reaching implications of the draft legislation in its current form, noting that all foreign websites not registered with China might be blocked.

“I think the draft mostly tries to address Internet security and the large amount of pornographic websites and other websites that violate Chinese laws,” Zhu Wei said. “Most of those domains are registered abroad. It is not easy to tackle them.”

However, other experts suggest the rule would only apply to websites in China- though this would still give the government considerable power in terms of monitoring content).

The translated wording of the legislation reads as follows:

“Domain names engaging in network access within the borders shall have services provided by domestic domain name registration service bodies, and domestic domain name registration management bodies shall carry out operational management.

For domain names engaging in network access within the borders, but which are not managed by domestic domain name registration service bodies, Internet access service providers may not provide network access services.”

Read the proposals in full here (Chinese)

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