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China’s New Cybersecurity Law Goes Into Effect Amid Some Apprehension

Last month, a new cybersecurity law that requires companies to prohibit anonymity and to monitor and report on their employees’ online activities came into effect in China, Lisa Movius reports in the Art Newspaper. The Cyberspace Administration of China said in a statement that the intention is to protect “national security, the public interest, as well as the rights and interests of citizens.” While the law specifically targets corporate accounts on the social media platform WeChat, which allows users to send messages and make payments, among other functions, authorities have shut down sixty accounts on WeChat and Weibo in the first week of its implementation.

The New York- and Shanghai-based artist Miao Ying said of the situation: “The Chinese internet is such a unique and rich material, I am often inspired by it. . . .For anyone who resides in China, you will be shaped by it, not just because of the firewall. China has its own internet environment and it is developing more rapidly than anywhere else.” She noted that she has already experienced censorship: “I recently had a government official show up at a museum displaying my art and I had to censor my work that was about censorship in order to show it there.”

The so-called Great Firewall—an online surveillance structure that blocks data from foreign countries—is already in effect across the country’s internet and virtual private networks (VPNS), which allow users in China to bypass the firewall, are used by only 1 percent of the population.