China Launches Data Security Initiative

China’s foreign minister announced Tuesday the start of a global data security initiative, outlining principles that should be followed in areas ranging from personal information to espionage.Wang Yi announced the initiative in a video as part of conference on international cooperation. The initiative comes as the U.S. continues to put pressure on China’s largest technology companies and tries to convince countries around the world to block them.  China’s initiative has eight key points including not using technology to impair other countries’ critical infrastructure or steal data and making sure service providers don’t install backdoors in their products and illegally obtain user data.Wang, speaking in Beijing, also said the initiative seeks an end to activities that “infringe upon personal information” and opposes using technology to conduct mass surveillance against other states.The initiative says companies should also respect the laws of host countries and stop coercing domestic firms to store data generated overseas in their own territory.  U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last month unveiled the “Clean Network” program, saying it is aimed at protecting citizen privacy and sensitive information from “malign actors, such as the Chinese Communist Party.”  Many points of the initiative appear to address some of those accusations.  In an apparent reference to Pompeo’s comments, Zhao said,” China has always been broad and level, open and cooperative. If all countries, especially those intentionally smearing and slandering China with wild allegations, could make such a promise like China, it will be beneficial to the mutual trust and cooperation on digital security issues among all countries.”The U.S. has accused China’s technology companies of posing national security threats by collecting user data and sending it back to Beijing. Companies, including Huawei and ByteDance, have denied those allegations.It is unclear if any other countries have signed on to China’s initiative and how it will be implemented and policed. 

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