China’s New Cybersecurity Program: NO Place to Hide

from China Law Blog

The Chinese government has been working for several years on a comprehensive Internet security/surveillance program.  This program is based on the Cybersecurity Law adopted on 2016. The plan is vast and includes a number of subsidiary laws and regulations. On December 1, 2018, the Chinese Ministry of Public Security announced it will finally roll-out the full plan.

The core of the plan is for China’s Ministry of Security to fully access the massive amounts of raw data transmitted across Chinese networks and housed on servers in China. Since raw data has little value, the key to the Ministry’s success will be in processing that data. Seeing that this is the key issue, the Ministry has appointed Wang Yingwei to be its new head of the Cybersecurity Bureau. Wang is a noted “big data” expert and he will be tasked with making sense of the raw data that will be gathered under the new system.

The plan for the new system is ambitious and comprehensive. As explained by Guo Qiquan, the chief cheerleader for the plan, the main goal of the new system is to provide “full coverage”.  As explained by Guo, “It will cover every district, every ministry, every business and other institution, basically covering the whole society. It will also cover all targets that need [cybersecurity] protection, including all networks, information systems, cloud platforms, the internet of things, control systems, big data and mobile internet.”

This system will apply to foreign owned companies in China on the same basis as to all Chinese persons, entities or individuals. No information contained on any server located within China will be exempted from this full coverage program. No communication from or to China will be exempted. There will be no secrets. No VPNs. No private or encrypted messages. No anonymous online accounts. No trade secrets. No confidential data. Any and all data will be available and open to the Chinese government. Since the Chinese government is the shareholder in all SOEs and is now exercising de facto control over China’s major private companies as well, all of this information will then be available to those SOEs and Chinese companies. See e.g. China to place government officials inside 100 private companies, including Alibaba. All this information will be available to the Chinese military and military research institutes. The Chinese are being very clear that this is their plan.

More here.

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11 Responses to China’s New Cybersecurity Program: NO Place to Hide

  1. Kathleen Watts October 25, 2019 at 8:58 pm #

    China is going down a deep and dark path and I don’t think they are fully prepared for the fallout. This issues will not end with this article. It will not end with a week of public outcry. Why? Because this issue affects American business, and they will not let that just blow over. Already, companies have been moving out of China. In fact, one in four US companies are starting to move out. This invasive procedure will only continue to increase that rate, possibly to one-in-one. This will have an incredible impact on the Chinese economy. Although it is now the second-largest in the world, it will fall from that throne, and it will fall hard. There will be massive layoffs which will increase unemployment, then poverty, then poverty-related deaths. Even more, crime will increase as people are dependant on stealing and other criminal acts in order to insure their survival. With the Chinese government being the Chinese government, they will most likely suppress as much of this as they possibly can. They will only continue to increase the control they have over their citizens and even more people will unexplainably “go missing” then they have been in the Hong Kong protests. On that note, these protests will continue to increase, and governmental suppression of them will follow. One could make the argument that all of this trouble will spark the third world war.

    How? With over 1.4 billion people, roughly 18% of the world population, China is the most populated country in the world. Although comparable in size, China holds 4 times the amount of people the United States does. Strict, totalitarian government control does not usually stay mainland with big countries. Sure, for North Korea, they simply make threats to remind the rest of the world that they exist. China, on the other hand, does not need to make any threats to induce fear. With a population, theoretically, massively out of work, China could instantly take advantage and enroll these people into military groups. These people have no other choice. Either they join the army or the risk dying on the streets. China will most likely take advantage of Fathers, who have to worry about the protection and survival of their family before themselves. (Remember, women are not necessarily loved in China and therefore, will probably not be asked to join the army) From here, China has a huge advantage. Just like Hitler, the Chinese Government will retaliate against the scrutiny of the world and vie for domination. Like I said before, this government control rarely ends with mainland action. Usually, the government in question desires a control far greater than what they can get from their own people.

    Muslim concentration camps might also be of note in this discussion. Many people have denied the existence of these camps, even while hundreds of Chinese muslims “go missing”. We must remember that, prior to World War II, many people denied the existence of concentration camps. It wasn’t until Hitler began invading other countries that people started paying real attention. It wasn’t until American soldiers saw what horrors had taken place in these camps that the American people truly realized what atrocities were taking place. I can’t imagine this going any differently, especially as we lose ground in China with companies pulling out.

    • Christopher Bagnell November 7, 2019 at 1:03 pm #

      What China is about to do to their country with cybersecurity might cripple their economy. Placing laws on all forms of communications, no private or encrypted messages, regardless of whether its to or from china. Foreign companies in China will have to face the same laws at play. Because of these laws, many companies are moving out of China and finding other places to outsource their work. In the past, private companies in china were able to avoid the sharing of information with the Chinese government by using VPN’s (virtual private networks) to communicate with people. Sites such as Alibaba, which is a privately-owned company, used such tactics to communicate. A private company was not required in the past to share everything with their government but now, they are. Chinese government officials will be placed inside private companies such as Alibaba, to make sure all information is available to the Chinese military and military institutes. The fact that it is going to the military raises some questions whether or not to be worried. The only reason they would want secret information is to try and gain an advantage against other countries governments and military, which is not good. This might lead into a war that could be very deadly and that is not wanted. The Chinese government is becoming more controlling every year and will become a problem if it continues on this trend. While these cyber security laws are put in place to protect their country, they may ruin it.

  2. Danielle Blanco October 29, 2019 at 8:02 am #

    China has announced the full plan regarding internet security and surveillance program. This is all based on their Cybersecurity Law adopted in 2016. The plan would cover every district, ministry, business, and other institution. All networks, information systems, cloud platforms, control systems, mobile internet and big data will be targets the will be covered with cybersecurity. An important part of this plan is that this will also apply to foreign owned companies in China. This is the biggest change and the biggest threat for foreign owned companies. No matter the nationality or origin of the company, if it is within China, it must comply with the laws. Prior to the new plan, foreign companies were able to use VPN internet services. VPN internet services protects information and only allows people to access the network if they have the credentials to get in. This will be a major problem for all foreign firms that have a location in China, especially US firms. Some information may be considered confidential and under their nation’s law, it is allowed to remain confidential. However, China will have full access to this information. This could lead to trade secrets to come to light to the Chinese, even though trade secrets are protected under U.S law. Usually when having your firm going international, the firm must comply with the host nation’s laws. This law could lead to many firms to withdraw their operations from China in order to protect their information. Their information may not necessarily be illegal, but the firm does not want that information to get in the hands of the wrong person or the wrong nation. Leaving the firm in China means that the Chinese government will not have to ask the firm for permission to access their information. They have the right to have full access. This could be put employees’ personal information at risk to. The change in privacy law could have major implications to come

  3. Kevin Orcutt November 1, 2019 at 6:15 pm #

    A major part of our class is looking at context to the cases we are studying. By analyzing this context, we are able to fully understand why a situation is taking place or took place. In this situation, we are looking at the new Cybersecurity laws in China. This gives even further reason to the Hong Kong riots and the trend in China to break away from a communist government. Many of them are preaching to be like the United States and want a capitalist society. By knowing more and more of the oppressiveness, the Chinese people are under, we can better understand the riots.
    In the past, China has had a ban on most of the internet that they do not deem is in the best interest of the security of China. These also include documents against the governments way of thinking that would encourage people to think for themselves. The way around this was by using a VPN. Many people and companies, foreign and domestic, were able to use VPN’s to bypass the security in China. They would be able to discreetly send information to each other without the governments knowledge and see information the government did not want them seeing. With this law, all of those VPN’s will be banned and there will be no information on the internet that the government will not be able to see. There will be no privacy of any citizen. This is a major red flag for the Chinese people. By the government doing this, it shows they are getting worried about the future of their rule. They understand that no one wants their communist rule in which they control the major companies and SOE’s of the country. The government is trying to stop the people from having the ability to fight back against them and form together. I think the Chinese people should do all they can to stop this from happening. With the guns that citizens of the United States are trying to strip themselves of, the Chinese people could be using right now to get freedom if they had that right.

  4. Connor G November 4, 2019 at 3:15 am #

    China’s new cybersecurity policy is one that disturbs and worries me. Although this does not directly apply to me, there is a moral dilemma in collecting massive amounts of personal data from companies and individuals in the name of security. Rather, this collection of data can be abused as the potential is very high for such. As a country that is currently locked in a trade war with the United States, China could potentially suffer another large setback as a result of the Cybersecurity Law. Foreign companies might look into pulling their companies out of China and instead setting up shop in neighboring nations. Traditional security measures to protect trade secrets from competitors and the Chinese government are now futile actions. The government is allowing itself to access any information at any time for any reason under the guise of protecting state security, meaning that any traditional safeguards employed by companies in the past now will not work. A large problem here is sustaining a competitive market for businesses. Although the Cybersecurity Law applies to any and all companies and individuals in China, the government can specifically target foreign companies for their trade secrets. After acquiring such secrets, the government could hand them over to state-backed companies in order to produce a higher quality good to compete with foreign companies operating in China. This effectively destroys a company’s chance of making money by having its secrets leaked.

    Furthermore, these secrets will likely be sold to the military and military research facilities in China. In an age when the People’s Liberation Army forces have been growing, specifically the PLA navy with major advances in submarine technology and a buildup of a naval buffer around mainland China, these not-so-covert claimings of technologies for “security reasons” could directly threaten the sovereignty of southeast Asia. These technologies could be altered for military purposes such as developing submarine sonar through communication secrets stolen from companies. With this new legislation becoming effective soon, it is the responsibility of foreign companies, specifically American ones, to pull their businesses and top-secret communications out of China in order to protect global interests and to deter any major military advances.

    Companies need to be held accountable for willingly giving away trade secrets to China by allowing access to its data and information. Although there is an argument to be made stating that the use of information is up to the responsibility of the company and how the company should be able to do whatever it wants with its data, the company has a responsibility to its host country to protect its secrets.

  5. N Luciano November 5, 2019 at 2:21 pm #

    The newest trend in technology comes from China. They passed a law that would allow all data to be handed over to the government. China’s cyber security laws just got very strict. They now have access to any data that is transmitted from their servers. China’s population of 1.8 Billion people along with American companies can have their data and trading files accessed. American companies used to be safe while using VPNs that would allow them to have servers outside of China. This is no longer safe to say as the new policy does not protect under the new laws. No encrypted messages. No private data and no fake accounts. China would then be able to access of data within their servers about the United States and the companies that are in the country of China. There is a large amount of legal issues that goes into this. American citizens would have to comply with these laws because they are in China.
    In my opinion American companies will soon leave China under these new rules. They would not want their trade secrets unraveled through this. They especially would not have the government looking at their data by any means. VPN’s were the only way around this in the past, but that is no more. All individuals and all entities on the soil of China will adhere to these rules as of January 1st 2020. China has not had much control up until this point but with recent events of riots this is starting to change. This is China’s way of gaining back power over their people. Where will this new law go from here? Technology has grown to what it is today because it has made our lives easier. China now can see everything you are doing so the criminals can no longer hide. This includes government and military officials that want to get the inside scoop on certain people. Confidentiality is a thing of the past where the Chinese Government is able to gain trade secrets, look at messages, internet history and even photos.
    I can not stop thinking about what the implications would be if the United States implemented a similar law. Americans are sensitive when it comes to their privacy online. This worries me when it comes to why they are collecting massive amounts of data from everyone that enters the country. One thing that will be completely uncovered is American trade secrets. There must be reasonable actions taken to keep the secrecy under cover from anyone else getting them. If not. There is now a value to the secrets that the Chinese government can now see. The Europena Union and the United States will have to make an agreement with the Chinese Government through this new law. Because American companies that have locations in China now have to go under the assumption that the Chinese Government will see the data. The data is easily available to the Chinese Government thus giving invalidability to anything they are putting into their devices.

  6. Lisa Tier November 6, 2019 at 12:23 pm #

    China launching a nationwide cybersecurity protection plan is a huge step in the right direction. Cybersecurity is becoming a larger issue every day throughout the entire world. As more people use the internet daily, protection is something that should be a large concern to every country. China making this movement should be an example for other countries to protect their citizens. As of now, in the United States, if a person or business wishes to be protected online, they must implement that protection on their own. They should take this idea from China and formulate their own cyber-protection plan for citizens of the United States.
    China may, surprisingly, run into backlash from this implementation. While it may seem like a shock, there could be someone or some company that does not want cybersecurity protection from the government. As mentioned, “This system will apply to foreign owned companies in China on the same basis as to all Chinese persons, entities or individuals. No information contained on any server located within China will be exempted from this full coverage program. No communication from or to China will be exempted. There will be no secrets. No VPNs. No private or encrypted messages. No anonymous online accounts. No trade secrets. No confidential data. Any and all data will be available and open to the Chinese government.” Forcing all information, especially business information, to be available to the government could be an issue for people and businesses. Citizens may feel that by protecting them online, their personal privacy is being violated. This may lead to uprisings and riots against the government, and if feelings are strong enough, some may try to file suit against this implementation.

  7. Mikaela Battaglia November 6, 2019 at 10:35 pm #

    This article is fascinating and very shocking. I think it is absolutely absurd that the Chinese government is just going to take private information from their own citizens and foreign entities without permission. It is known that the Chinese government is very controlling, not only implementing this system but also the supposed AI system that tracks its citizen’s behavior using a point system. It seems like we are in a sci-fi horror movie, because new technology like this that is being implemented in China is very powerful and controlling. For Chinese businesses and regular working people, I wonder what the government actually will gain from knowing their every move. Most of that data, that has to be stored and translated, will be absolutely useless and a waste of time and money to find out. While I do think it would prevent things like trade secrets and any other wrongdoing that can occur over the internet, it is also extremely exploitative and unethical.
    Regarding foreign companies and entities, this implementation is going to cause major issues. The US and China do plenty of business together in many ways, and I wonder if this is now going to sever some of those ties of business. While trade secrets are a way for companies to have a leg up on their competitors, by China forcibly taking that information without permission, those said secrets could get out globally, leaving companies who relied on that information in the dust because it is now public knowledge.
    I do not understand how China is going to get away with doing this, especially since it is not only dealing domestically but globally. I do not think the US and other countries are going to allow China to take dictatorship like this, because it is unfair to companies. By not asking for access to the information and just taking it, I think that this is going to cause many international issues. China is violating other countries’ rules on national security and technological privacy implementations, and the US government is sure to act on this. Even though we do not have authority over China, we do have control over our own citizen’s and businesses, and I think that many will be recommended to not do business with China if they have sensitive information, even if it will come at a loss to the company.

  8. Xuanchen Zhang November 6, 2019 at 11:02 pm #

    The internet surveillance program is perhaps one of the biggest threats to basic rights and freedoms of people such as right to privacy. It makes it almost impossible for the citizens to access or transmit any information through the internet without the possibility of the government having access to that. But this being China, it should not come as a shock because the government has for long time maintained a high level of strictness which limits the basic freedoms of the people. However, there is a more shocking aspect to this surveillance program, and which seems very likely to have negative impacts on the business environment. This is the fact that trade secrets of companies are not protected, as they too are subjected to the similar law of internet surveillance. As the article states, “trade secrets are not permitted.”

    Ideally, this renders many companies and businesses exposed to having the secrets they would not wish to have their competitors know at the risk of exposure. Many companies have trade secrets that they have as their competitive edge. Through these secrets, they are able to keep vital information about their strategic operations out of reach from competitors as they could easily be copied. The protection for these secrets is really important in this day and age where such information is crucial. However, while the rest of the world is increasing protecting for such trade secrets and other intellectual properties, the government of China is removing such protection.

    This is in itself a bad thing to businesses, and further complicates the international business legal environment. As a consequence, I expect to see many foreign companies that have operations in China either complain about this law, or some of them may opt to move out to other nations, or restrict their operations to only those that have no trade secrets. Therefore, this law is bad for the economy of the country and makes it unattractive for business, at a time when many countries in the world are focusing on improving their business environments to attract more businesses.

  9. Max Nitzberg November 7, 2019 at 1:57 pm #

    China’s new cyber-security plan is the biggest threat of privacy on the internet I have seen. China is planning on monitor all data in their country of their citizens and even if it is a foreign company. It is very ironic that China refers to this as cyber-security even though they are taking private information and viewing it as a hacker would. This would not be the first time China as tried to take control of information on the internet. For many years now China has been censoring information that it deems unhealthy to society. A law like this could never pass in the United States as it clearly infringes our rights. These new laws will endanger any sensitive information these foreign companies might be holding. I’m curious to see if this will cause many foreign companies in China to take their operations elsewhere. I doubt companies would continue to operate where their data is constantly being viewed and put at risk by the government. I’m very keen to see what impact this plan will have in the future relating to business between the U.S and China.

  10. Arman Ameri November 7, 2019 at 7:04 pm #

    China has a big problem on their hands and if they do not correct it could have a negative impact on their economy. More and more US companies are taking their business out of China and if it continues, the unemployment rate could skyrocket, which will obviously lead to higher poverty rates and crime rates. Even though the Chinese government will do their best to censor the situation, it will eventually become too much to handle. Now with China having such a big population, the threat comes in military size. With all these people having nowhere to go, one option which could be taken is enlisting, as if they don’t have a large enough army. With the threat of a large army getting bigger, this could lead to the rest of the world trying to put limitations on China and if China reacts negatively against these attempts to cease its military growth, then there will be an even bigger problem such as a war.

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