China’s proactive steps to end data abuse

Written By: Eric Biegon
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Global attempts to protect digital technology consumers and stop data abuse got a major boost this week after China unveiled guidelines aimed at ensuring the security of information and promotion of the ever-expanding digital economy.

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At a first-ever international digital governance seminar held in Beijing, China appears to have taken a lead on a campaign towards the realization of data security across the globe.

In its rallying call, the world’s second-largest economy maintained that nations have the responsibility to ensure the security of important data and personal information especially given that these usually have a bearing on the countries’ economic, social and political stability.

Addressing the meeting that brought together foreign and local government officials, think tanks and the world’s major ICT companies, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi noted that his country has always acted in strict compliance with data security principles.

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He said the CPC-led administration in Beijing has not and will never put pressure on Chinese companies to transfer overseas data to the government in breach of other countries’ laws. It’s against this background that he urged other nations to follow in its footsteps.

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“We welcome governments, international organizations, ICT companies, technology communities, civil organizations, individuals and all other actors to make concerted efforts to promote data security under the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits.” He said

He went on to castigate attempts by some countries which he accused of seeking to obtain information through unlawful means.

“We have not and will not ask Chinese companies to transfer data overseas to the government in breach of other countries’ laws,” Wang said

Amid these emerging challenges, China believes that the Global Initiative on Data Security will ensure the cessation of use and deployment of technology to impair other nations critical infrastructure or fraudulent acquisition of important data belonging to them.

“We must take actions to prevent and put an end to activities that infringe upon personal information, oppose the abuse of ICT to conduct mass surveillance against other States or engage in unauthorized collection of personal information of other States.” The minister remarked.

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But apart from governments, China further wants companies operating overseas to respect the laws of host countries, desist from coercing domestic companies into storing data generated and obtained overseas in one’s own territory.

President Xi Jinping’s government insists that countries must respect the sovereignty, jurisdiction and governance of data of other nations, and must at all times resist the urge to ask companies or individuals to provide data located in other States without the latter’s permission.

But should the data in question be deemed too crucial for a nation or state, then China proposes that this should be done through judicial assistance or other appropriate channels.

Wang, however, cautioned ICT service providers against “installing backdoors” in their products and services to illegally obtain user data.

“ICT companies should not seek illegitimate interests by taking advantage of users’ dependence on their products,” he said.

While urging all nations to support this initiative, China is adamant that countries should focus on seizing opportunities presented by the digital space to deepen cooperation that will lead to development.

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The latest push by China comes amid a recent move by the United States to launch an initiative dubbed “Clean Network” that is seen as an attempt to purge foreign companies operating in its territory.

It will be remembered that soon after this launch, President Donald Trump’s administration imposed restrictions to US firms dealing with Huawei, the largest Chinese tech firm.

Plans are also at an advanced stage to ban TikTok and Wechat applications in the U.S. over what the Trump regime cites as threats to its national security even though it is yet to provide evidence of the same.

“Some individual countries are aggressively pursuing unilateralism, throwing dirty water on other countries under the pretext of ‘cleanliness,’ and conducting global hunts on leading companies of other countries under the pretext of security.

This is naked bullying and should be opposed and rejected.” Wang said.

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