What's new in the draft law on protecting state secrets

As the first round of reading of the State Secrets Law has ended, the NPC has disclosed some bits of information about the draft law.

The definition of state secret will now explicitly cover information which is stored electronically.

Provisions have been added to prohibit that data storage devices containing state secrets be connected to the internet or any other public network.

Steeper penalties have been introduced for those who violate these provisions: those who negligently divulge state secrets - and their unit's leaders - will be punished with fines from 1.000 to 5.000 yuan and administrative penalties, provided their act does not reach the treshold of criminal responsibility.

The powers of the National Administration for the Protection of State Secrets seem to have been somewhat increased or better defined. The draft law contains a section on "supervision" which further defines them. State organs for the protection of state secrets, which are merged to party committees for the protection of state secrets, also possess the powers to investigate and prosecute 查处 relevant violations of discipline.

Provisions about the scope of security clearance have been added, with the aim to make it narrower.

Provisions about the maximum classification period will be incorporated in the amended law. State secrets department will however have a change to require an extention of the classification period.

Provisions about some of these aspects already exist in administrative regulations. So while the new law may contain entirely new provisions, its revision might entail also a rationalisation of the existing administrative rules and regulations, some of which are listed below.