European chamber says still has concerns on China anti-terror law

BEIJING (Reuters) - The European Chamber of Commerce in China still has concerns about China’s new counter-terrorism law despite some of the more contentious cyber elements of it being dropped, the chamber said in a statement released late on Monday.

Police and civilians take part in an anti-terrorism drill at a college in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China December 10, 2015. Picture taken December 10. REUTERS/Stringer

The controversial law, passed on Sunday by China’s largely rubber-stamp parliament, requires technology firms to help decrypt information, but not install security “backdoors” as initially planned.

A provision in an initial draft that would require companies to keep servers and user data within China was also removed from the final law.

“The European Chamber recognises the positive developments in terms of removing the language that required the submission of encryption codes and server/data localization from the final version,” it said in a statement.

Much will depend on the implementation, it said.

“Some concerns remain over issues such as market access, intellectual property rights, and the obligation to monitor, report and censor terrorist content,” the statement said.

The chamber called for “a thorough and timely public call for comments” on its implementation, it said.

China’s government has said companies need not fear the law, saying intellectual property rights would be respected and that many Western countries had similar laws.

Chinese officials say their country faces a growing threat from militants and separatists, especially in China’s unruly Western region of Xinjiang, where hundreds have died in violence in the past few years.

The law had attracted deep concern in Western capitals, not only because of worries it could violate human rights such as freedom of speech, but because of the cyber provisions. U.S. President Barack Obama has said he had raised concerns about the law directly with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Paul Tait