China, a country already known for strict regulations on Internet access and cybersecurity, may be taking strides to become even tougher.
For businesses, this could mean decreased access to foreign markets or the use of state-approved equipment, but for others the tougher security measures might actually be a good move.
China Flirts with Documentation
In the past, Chinese cybersecurity was difficult to get a bead on because the policies in writing were often vague or treated like an in-government secret.
A new report on Chinese cybersecurity from an internal regulator suggests there would likely be a formalization of existing and new policies. Although the new policies could make doing business in China more difficult for foreign companies, it will finally answer questions that before couldn’t be handled until Chinese regulators were at the front gates.
The report, the first of its kind released by the Cyberspace Administration of China, is part of a bigger effort meant to streamline cybersecurity management. Some parts of this new cybersecurity management plan have already drawn fire or raised concerns among human rights and foreign companies, but others are embracing the coming changes.
Beijing still maintains that the Internet is a technology that could have destabilizing effects if not properly controlled, but is trying to balance a fostering of innovation with security with new efforts.
Pros and Cons of Streamlining
The recent report lists a number of specific goals and requirements coming with the new cybersecurity policies, including sectors China considers sensitive to cybersecurity attacks.
Eventually, areas like energy, finance, traffic, education, research, industry, water management, manufacturing, health care and communications may be required to use state-approved equipment to maintain their standing with the government.
This would, theoretically, protect China’s most vital systems from cyberattacks, but policies of the past already have foreign business nervous. People report that security checks on encryption and data storage were so vague that they left open the possibility they’d be used to extract trade secrets or to detect weaknesses in products prime for state hacking.
Others are now worried that China making its policies more public and open will lead to other countries forming similar policies, making global business more difficult to accomplish.