China’s Latest Tech Regs Fixated On Data Control

China’s Latest Tech Regs Fixated On Data Control

June 14, 2021 at 11:58AM

New legislation passed last week and in April will make most data-related activities in China subject to government oversight, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported. The new Data Security Law, which will take effect on Sept. 1, stems from China’s 2017 Cybersecurity Law that started defining how data should flow. 

Big tech companies —Tencent, Alibaba, ByteDance — will soon have to make much of the data collected from social media, eCommerce and other digital activities open to the government, WSJ reported, citing official documents and interviews with people involved in policy-making.

China’s moves are being interpreted by some as a stance that all data accumulated in the country could be considered a national asset, the WSJ reported, citing people involved in the development of the policy. Government officials in China are also trying to prevent big tech from using their extensive data to ignite new power forces in the one-party state or threatening national security by sharing data with business partners outside of the country.

Beijing is trying to exert control over the data troves accumulated by foreign tech companies operating in the country. Tesla, for example, agreed last month to extend the number of data centers in China and keep collected information inside the country, the WSJ reported. 

Regulation of big technology companies is a topic of discussion in most countries worldwide, including how to best provide oversight of digital records. In Europe, for example, data privacy is the emphasis. China and Russia, meanwhile, are eyeing government control. 

There currently isn’t a federal law governing data protection in the U.S. — however the House of Representatives is finalizing drafts of five antitrust bills that call for tech regulations. Two of the five bills target companies like Amazon that have their own brands competing alongside the merchants on their sites.