China has drafted a bill that would give police the power to disconnect people from the Internet in times of natural disasters, public health crises or social unrest, according to the Ministry of Public Security.
“If necessary, police authorities at the county level and above can take measures to control the internet to deal with emergency situations after getting approval from the provincial or central governments,” read the new proposal, which was released by the ministry on December 2.
The government of China has a five-tier hierarchical structure, with counties in the second-lowest rank, and township administrations at the very bottom, according to Caixin.
For the first time since the ethnic riots that killed 197 people and injured another 1,500 in the northwestern region of Xinjiang in July 2009, no measure along this line has been introduced in China’s legislature.
The new rule would also let the police curb online access outside of a crisis, including a major public gathering or event or “when an individual or specific target (important public building or place) requires protection,” according to the draft.
Wireless network connection near Tiananmen Square was also cut off during 2015’s military parade held in honor of the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, Shanghaiist reported.
The proposal would also give official broader power to censoring social media users during times of crisis.
In 2015, during the aftermath of the Tianjin explosions, censors expunged thousands of “dangerous” posts about the incident. Nearly 200 users were reprimanded for spreading rumors two weeks after the explosions.
In November, China held its annual Internet conference in Wuzhen, where foreigners were given devices to access blocked websites, while domestic visitors remained behind the Great Firewall.
Tech in Asia compiled a list of the most popular sites which are blocked by the firewall of China, including social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, just to name a few. Media sites such as the New York Times, Bloomberg, as well as Netflix and YouTube, have also been blacklisted.
It is still unclear when the proposal will take effect or if it will even come to pass.