New language in China’s recently enacted national security law is generating major concern across the global technology industry. The rules call for a “national security review” of networking, tech products and services, and foreign investment. In addition, the rules call for crucial tech sectors to be made “secure and controllable,” which industry groups fear may suggest that back doors for allowing third-party access to systems would be necessary, perhaps even leading to the sharing of encryption keys or source code.
“As with many Chinese laws, the language is vague enough to make it unclear how the law will be enforced, but it suggests a new front in the wider clash between China and the United States over online security and technology policy,” reports The New York Times.
The U.S. government contends that China has sponsored hacking attacks designed to leverage commercial advantages for its companies. The U.S. also believes China has created policies intended to force the transfer of intellectual property.
Meanwhile, China argues that in the wake of disclosures by NSA contractor Edward Snowden regarding online espionage, the government has plenty to consider in breaking away from foreign technology.
International tech companies were relieved in April when Beijing indicated it would withdraw its law restricting which tech products could be sold by foreign entities to Chinese banks. However, the new additions to China’s national security law suggest the celebration may have been premature.
“The changes to the law are also likely to increase lobbying pressure on the United States by multinationals aimed at a separate Chinese measure, a counterterrorism law that Beijing is expected to pass this year and that could include stronger restrictions on foreign technologies being sold into China,” notes NYT.
According to Adam Segal, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, “China is not particularly swayed by or sympathetic to arguments that the foreign companies have made, and they’re going to push forward on all these fronts.”