When Apple decided to build its first data centre in China in compliance with a new cybersecurity law, the unprecedented spotlight fell on the site of the mountainous and relatively poorer Chinese province of Guizhou. As the region itches to make its name as the latest hub for the Chinese data economy over the past five years, Liu Chong, the Deputy Director of the province’s cyber regulator — Cyberspace Administration — met with KARISHMA MEHROTRA and eight other Indian journalists at a Chinese government sponsored reporting trip. Excerpts:
Will you be able to transport the data in the servers located in this province?
If data is public, it’s okay to transport but for sensitive and private information we will not allow it.
Will you be able to access the data stored by Apple in China?
If they store their data here then the data actually belongs to China. We, the Chinese government, have access to the data.
What laws do you have regulating this?
Big data industry is an emerging industry so we are exploring the development of it. But recently, we had planned over 30 regulations and other manners to protect the privacy and security of the data. The provincial government has passed a law this year. Another bounty of laws will be passed. The China cybersecurity law was released on June 1, 2017.
What do you think about the Indian government’s push towards storing Indian citizen data in India?
It should be because it’s related to security. But the core technology is right now in the hands of Western countries like the US. The data security in developing countries is quite low.
Won’t India’s data localisation also hurt the Chinese economy?
The internet is borderless. It is a common resource, tool, and wealth shared by all. But unrestricted access to national data on the internet is tantamount to opening up your home completely, leaving your property to others, and even threatening your family and life.
I will guard against thieves, robbers and invaders from harming ourselves. When big data is gathered in a certain amount, it will become the core secret of a unit, a department, a field and a country.
Every country should protect its property like every family, and it must be strictly protected and prevented from giving them any chance. Protecting and protecting the internet is a new issue and challenge for all countries.
What do you say to those who believe there should be no boundaries over the internet?
There should be no boundaries on the internet. However, if there isn’t any form of control or protection, it’s like having the doors of your home wide open and anyone could take your furniture or harm your family.
We should of course be vigilant against thieves, burglars or bad people. When this big data is big enough or developed enough, it will be a secret to a sector or country. Every country should guard this from people with ill will just like family would protect the safety of its members. The openness and the protection and security in openness is a new challenge to all of us.
What is the biggest lesson in cyberspace for you?
The internet industry is growing so fast, you always feel like you are catching up. Even with technology changes the one thing that maintains the same is you need quality content to be transmitted. Because of our experience in the media (Liu Chong is a former Chinese journalist) we know how to better serve them.