Mandatory registration for internet access in Shenzhen

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Companies in Shenzhen have recently received letters from the local Public Security Bureau (PSB) reminding them to register their internet access or face punishment and blockage from the internet for six months. This reminder is in line with a rule that states every company with access to the internet must register with the Shenzhen PSB within 30 days of establishing connection.

According to sources at the Shenzhen PSB, the rule has been on the books since 2002 but a lack of public awareness has led them to issue the recent warning.

In addition to the registering with the PSB, the bureau is requiring all companies to install a piece of software that monitors all employee internet activity. The software records and tracks what sites employees go to, enabling the company, according to the PSB, to “see if an employee has accessed an illegal websites, or sent any illegal information.”

If a company is accused of any computer-related crimes, this software can be used to the trace the individual responsible and hold them accountable. Without this, the legal representative of the company, regardless of guilt, will be held legally responsible for the crime.

Most companies already monitor their employees’ online activities, though they will have to provide proof that the monitoring software they use was bought from a supplier who has a government sales permit and can record internet access for at least 60 days. Companies will need to provide the PSB with a sales invoice or purchase contract to prove they installed the software. While the enforcement of this regulation shouldn’t cause too many headaches to most companies, just what the PSB means by “illegal websites” and “illegal information” is open to interpretation, and may create a very slippery slope.

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