Proposals to Safeguard Computer Networks

How China should safeguard the Internet and enforce information security has stimulated heated discussions among law makers and advisory members.

Tang Zhangcheng, a Shanghai deputy to the Ninth National People’s Congress, proposed the drawing up of a law on electronic information to the ongoing annual session of the nation’s top legislative body.

The establishment and the wide application of the Internet and Intranet have greatly benefited society by increasing work efficiency, promoting communication and narrowing the geographic and temporal distance between people, but potential problems and risks threatening the healthy development of computer networks exist, Tang said.

The management of the Internet and computer networks remains a problem while they are developing so rapidly.

According to the Ministry of Information Industry, there will be 35 million Internet users and more than 17 million computers logged onto the Internet by the end of 2001 in China. Meanwhile, around 20 kinds of Internet-related crimes have been uncovered in China so far.

“We need a law to help promote the management of the Internet and other computer networks and make them more beneficial to users,” Tang said.

A more urgent problem lies in the prevention and treatment of online crimes, acts that he called “anti-social and intentional" and that bring great harm to the nation’s political, defence and economic security, public security, scientific and technological development and citizens’ rights.

Xu Wenbo, a CPPCC member, said that some departments did not have enough awareness or knowledge of computer safety problems and potential risks, and he called for more research into Internet safety.

“We are now in urgent need of a legislation designed specifically to protect the Internet and other computer networks as well as their users,” he said.

Apart from cracking down on Internet crime, deputies and members agreed to enhance the use of a “healthy Internet” amongst the younger generation.

According to ministry statistics, most Internet users are between 18 to 24, accounting for 41.2 percent of the total number of users, and growth this year is likely to be concentrated in the younger age groups.

(China Daily 03/12/2001)