NPC to consider tighter national security rules

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 25 February, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 25 February, 2010, 12:00am

Draft revisions to national security laws are set to demand that all companies and government departments dealing with classified information first pass government security tests.

The tougher rules are expected to be passed during the annual meeting of the National People's Congress next week, along with extensive changes to national secrets laws.

A new police station in Shanghai appears to be the first to have complied with the revisions - well ahead of them coming into force.

The checking of the building for potential leaks has earned the Shanghai police brownie points from the People's Liberation Army Daily.

Work on the building was completed in January, a statement posted on the Ministry of National Defence's website said yesterday, but staff were ordered not to move in until it had been thoroughly swept for bugs and other possible security problems.

The checking was carried out by three teams of agents from departments dealing with national security, the protection of high-level secrets and internet monitoring, the statement said.

The ministry said that although new buildings might appear safe, security experts pointed out that they could be riddled with 'hidden troubles'.

Among the problems identified was the fact that the building had wireless internet coverage - meaning use of wireless-equipped notebook computers could result in the leaking of sensitive information.

As part of the process, staff were briefed on how to avoid losing sensitive information when using mobile phones, computers and when burning data files onto CDs.

The police force had also established new rules dictating that all electronic equipment would need to undergo similar checks before it could be brought into the station, the ministry's statement said.

The work earned the Shanghai police lavish praise from PLA Daily, which lauded them at length in an editorial yesterday.

The PLA's official mouthpiece said such pre-emptive checks should become standard practice when military buildings are built or undergo repairs.

To back up its argument, the paper listed a series of incidents featuring the embassies of unidentified countries going back to 1945, where foreign spies had managed to plant listening devices in buildings, either during minor renovations, through tampering with construction materials or by using flaws in the design of the structure.

'[There is] an old saying 'walls have ears', which reminds people to be careful when discussing matters of secrecy,' the editorial said, adding that this was especially true in military buildings.

'[We] hope that when work is done on military constructions, or once renovations are completed, carrying out a security check will become something units do of their own volition ... to become a system that even lightning could not shake.'