China have launched a global data security initiative, outlining principles to be followed in domains ranging from personal information to espionage. It is an interesting move given the global politics which are taking place now between China and the West.
The global data initiative contains eight proposals. It suggests that states handle data security in a comprehensive, objective and evidence-based manner, and oppose ICT activities that use data to conduct activities that undermine other states’ national security and interests.
It calls on states to oppose mass surveillance against other states, and to refrain from asking domestic companies to store data generated and obtained overseas in their own territory. States should respect the sovereignty, jurisdiction and governance of data of other states, and any bilateral data access agreement should not infringe upon the judicial sovereignty and data security of a third state. It also requests that ICT products and service providers not install backdoors in their products and services to illegally obtain user data, or manipulate users’ systems and devices. It also aks that ICT companies should not seek illegitimate interests by taking advantage of user dependence on their products, nor force users to upgrade their systems and devices.
The US led backlash against Chineese tech companies seems to show no signs of slowing down. Recent weeks have seen the U.S. accussing China’s technology companies such as TikTok of posing national security threats by collecting user data and sending it back to Beijing. It can be difficult to disentangle legitimate national security concerns from traditional xenophobia against Chinese companies. Huawei have strived to be open in their dealings with national network operators as best exemplified in the UK where the National cyber security centre manage introspection of the core code for backdoors and the most damaging insight to date seems to be a difference in production code and supplied test equipment but a multitude of legitimate reasons for such an anomaly exist. Initiatives like this can only be welcomed at this time. The 8 proposals so seem like the address US concerns. It remains to be seen however how the initiative is viewed by foriegn powers. One aspect that most will agree with is that we all need transparency for the forthcoming cyber-world and intiatives like this if adopted can be for the greater good of all.