China just passed an anti-terrorism law that says companies must hand over encryption keys when officials want to take a look at someone’s messages. If you rely on encrypted messaging services to keep discussions private while in China, this isn’t good news. Reuters reports that officials say that this isn’t the same thing as requiring backdoors, but it’s still concerning if you use an app or website where it’s possible to request the encryption key.
A provision in an initial draft that would require companies to keep servers and user data within China was removed from the final law.
In theory, some services are safe. One example is Apple’s iMessage service that’s designed to prevent Apple from obtaining the keys. But this leads to another possible problem. What if Chinese courts order a service to hand over keys that the service can’t access? What happens then? This is a hypothetical, but there is a chance that some tech giants could face sticky situations in the future.
Hypotheticals aside, some companies will now have no choice but to give your information if it's demanded by officials in China. And it's never a good thing to hear that privacy has fallen lower on the priority list.
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