Under Construction: the “Great Firewall” of China

Cecilia Santostefano

Despite earlier petitions to reconsider, China passed a law in early November tightening internet controls. The legislation that is set to go into effect in summer 2017 is an effort to prevent terrorism and attempts to “overthrow[] the socialist system.”[1] It threatens to punish companies that allow unapproved information to circulate the internet; using cybersecurity to justify firm political censorship.[2]

Unlike in America, where citizens value protections like freedom of speech and freedom of the press, the people of China have long been subjected to internet censorship. China has made efforts in the past to ensure user’s identities are linked with internet use.[3] James Zimmerman, chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in China, reported the new law will “create barriers to Chinese as well as foreign companies operating in industries where data needs to be shared internationally” and further isolate China from the rest of the world, technologically.[4] Businesses worldwide fear this legislation will drive up the cost of foreign operations or prevent them completely.[5] At this point, the law’s implications on freedom of speech are unclear.


[1] China approves law to tighten control on internet use, CNBC, (Nov. 7, 2016), http://www.cnbc.com/2016/11/07/china-approves-law-to-tighten-control-on-internet-use.html.

[2] See id.

[3] Paul Mozur, China’s Internet Controls Will Get Stricter, to Dismay of Foreign Business, NY Times, (Nov. 7, 2016), http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/08/business/international/china-cyber-security-regulations.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=first-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news.

[4] Id.

[5] Id.