Rule By Law—Spying Edition

The People’s Republic of China is on the verge of enacting a law that would make legal corporate spying by the PRC government. Of course, the Chinese are couching this as a wholly innocent effort at countering terrorism.

The draft law requires both foreign and domestic telecommunications and Internet service providers to create backdoors in their systems to give Chinese authorities surveillance access, hand over copies of their encryption codes and assist government agencies with decryption when asked, among other provisions. Also, companies would be required to store Chinese users’ data on servers in the Chinese mainland; otherwise, they wouldn’t be allowed to operate in the country.

This sort of thing really should make it impossible for any honest company to do business in the PRC or with a PRC business. They should accept the Chinese offer of not “be[ing] allowed to operate in the country.” The financial gains to be had on the mainland—particularly with the money repatriation restrictions the PRC already has in place—can’t be worth this surrender of control over a legitimate business to the PRC government.

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