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Beijing proposes rules to stop Wi-Fi and Bluetooth networks going rogue

Local wireless network operators need to abide by "correct" political direction

China's internet regulators have announced a raft of proposed regulations for Bluetooth and Wi-Fi that will see operators of networks that employ the wireless techs required to abide by "correct" political standards.

The Cyberspace Administration (CAC) floated the guidelines on Tuesday, framing them as applicable to operators of "short-distance ad hoc networks" – providers of technologies that might enable local networks to promote non-socialist values or not abide by existing laws.

Operators of such networks are expected to "prevent and resist" the use of their equipment to spread what Beijing deems fake news, and to report such activities to authorities.

Users of the networks will also have to provide their real identities. Sending off any information over the networks without consent will also allowed, even when it comes to summary previews. Consent to pair from both senders and receivers must be given. No innocent bystanders here.

The CAC wants wireless network providers to deliver reminders of the proper way to use their connections, plus means to report incidents and make complaints. Operators will also be required to prepare contingency plans for incidents.

Feedback on the plan is sought ahead of a July 6 deadline.

The proposed measures echo similar rules Beijing imposes on telcos and online services – all of which are required to ensure only the party line makes it online, in the name of national security.

The CAC's notice offers no guidance on whether its plan will impact domestic Wi-Fi access points, or just commercial operators. It is also unclear why Bluetooth networks are included - although it could be an indication Beijing wants to control peer-to-peer networks like those made possible by Apple's AirDrop and similar technologies. Both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi networks are sometimes used as honeypots to lure users to various forms of attack – or dissidents could use either wireless tech to disseminate info Beijing forbids.

Whatever the intent of the proposed rules, they show that Beijing plans to leave no packet unregulated in its drive for an internet that carries only Communist Party values. It wants to make life hard for those who would use networks to commit crimes – or communicate other ideas. ®

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