For many U.S. companies, the concepts of “China” and “data privacy” collide only in the context of ensuring their private data is protected from the prying eyes of China-based cyberspies. In recent months, the U.S. has revved up the dialogue around cybersecurity issues with China and has diplomatically put pressure on the country to address cybersecurity. In a March speech, President Obama’s national security adviser, Tom Donilon, called the issue of cybersecurity “a growing challenge” to the economic relationship between the U.S. and China. In April, Secretary of State John Kerry announced that the U.S. and China would form a working group on cybersecurity.
However, companies that have any sort of business operations in China should be aware of a separate but quickly growing trend in the country: a move toward cybersecurity and, more specifically, data privacy protections within its borders. In recent years, China has been taking incremental but meaningful steps toward regulating the collection and use of its citizens’ personal data.