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China Youth Daily: Tencent Apps Found Violating End User Rights

China Youth Daily recently reported that, in a recent government compliance inspection movement on app infringement of users’ rights and interests, nine products of Tencent had not been rectified as required. Tencent had been warned publicly four times. The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has required that all new apps and updates to existing apps must pass government technical inspections before they can be released. Tencent responded to the news report, stating that the company is continuing to update its apps, to protect users’ rights, to cooperate with the regulatory authorities and to conduct normal compliance inspections. Currently Chinese mobile app users have felt strongly that many apps violate the rules of handling users’ personal information. They set up configuration barriers, harass users, and mislead users, among other violations. So far 2.44 million apps have been inspected. Of those, 2,049 apps that violated regulations were notified, and 540 apps that refused to be updated were removed from the app stores. In today’s Chinese app market, new issues such as microphone eavesdropping, communication theft, and unauthorized reading and writing of albums, are frequently exposed. There have been reports on some businesses, such as banks, that have asked employees to pause the use of popular Tencent apps such as WeChat.

Source: China Youth Daily, November 27, 2021

China’s “Whitelist” to Limit Key Industries Only to Chinese Companies

Bloomberg reported on November 16 that, in 2016, Beijing established the Information Technology Application and Innovation Working Committee (ITAIWC)  and has been using it to build a “Whitelist” so that entry into certain key industries is limited to “Chinese companies only.” China rejected the report on November 18.

Epoch Times provided some details about the ITAIWC’s actions in the past. In January, the Chinese Institute of Electronics, an institution directly under the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, released the “White Paper on the Development of China’s Information Technology Applications and Innovations Industry (2021) (the White Paper).” This is the first White Paper that the CIE and 16 enterprises and organizations have created in this field.

The White Paper said the Chinese government has included Information Technology Innovation into its national strategy and stated that, regarding the “2+8” model, the “2” stands for leadership by the party and the government, and the “8” stands for the eight big industries including finance, electricity, telecom, petroleum, transportation, education, medical treatment, and space.

The “Code of Work” of the ITAIWC sets the basic requirements for companies to apply to join its organization. The requirements are that the companies must be officially approved domestic enterprises and institutions engaged in research and development, production and manufacturing in the field of information technology application and innovation; the controlling shareholder of the enterprise must be a Chinese legal person or a Chinese natural person with a Chinese national as the legal person and less than 25 percent of the capital can be foreign capital.

The ITAIWC Technical Advisory Committee was formed in Beijing in March of this year. More than fifty people attended the meeting, including Major General Liao Xiangke, Dean of the School of Computer Science, the People’s Liberation Army’s University of National Defense Science and Technology, and Major General Wu Jiangxing, the Chairman of the China Network Information Technology Military-Civilian Integration Alliance. An official from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology delivered a speech at the meeting.

Source: Epoch Times, November 21, 2021

Oriental Daily: White House Opposes Intel’s Plan to Increase Chip Production in China

Popular Hong Kong newspaper Oriental Daily recently reported that sources familiar with the matter revealed that the U.S. Biden administration rejected Intel’s plan to increase chip production in China on the grounds of security concerns. The world’s largest chip maker has proposed to use a factory in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, to produce silicon chips. The discussion was conducted in private. The production line may be launched by the end of next year, helping to ease global supply tensions. At the same time, however, Intel has been seeking federal assistance to strengthen research and production in the United States. Officials in the Biden administration strongly opposed the plan. The government is working hard to solve the chip shortage problem. It is especially working hard to bring the production of important components back to the States. Intel said its focus is on the continued significant expansion of its existing semiconductor manufacturing business. The plan is to invest tens of billions of dollars in new wafer manufacturing plants in the U.S. and Europe. A White House representative declined to comment on specifics but stated that the government is “very much focused” on preventing China from using U.S. technology, to develop first-class capabilities.

Source: Oriental Daily, November 13, 2021

China to Introduce New Security Regulations on Data across its Border

On October 29, the Cyber Administration of China (CAC), China’s Internet regulator, released a draft regulation on the security assessment for data “leaving the country,” aiming to further tighten controls on the cross-border flow of data.

The draft regulation proposes that data operators should conduct a risk assessment before sending data outside the country. The assessment should include the quantity, scope, type and sensitivity of the data, as well as the risk that the outflow of the data may bring to national security, public interests and the legitimate rights and interests of individuals or organizations.

After the Chinese ride-sharing giant Didi Chuxing went public in the U.S. in late June, the CAC launched an immediate probe into the company and suspended its new user registration, citing “safeguards against national data security risks.”

The state media later claimed that the IPO of companies such as Didi in the U.S. would inevitably involve data leaving the country. The Data Security Law passed by China’s National People’s Congress in June prohibited them from providing domestically stored information to foreign law enforcement agencies.

According to the authorities, the draft regulation is based on China’s Cybersecurity Law, its Data Security Law, and its Personal Information Protection Law.

China’s Cybersecurity Law, which came into effect in 2017, already stipulates that critical information infrastructure operators shall store important data within China and shall conduct security assessments if they really need to provide it outside of China. The Data Security Law, which came into effect in September this year, specifies penalty standards for operators who provide important data outside of China in violation of the aforementioned provisions. The Personal Information Protection Law, which came into effect on November 1, stipulates that critical information infrastructure operators and personal information processors that handle personal information up to the amount specified by the state cyber authorities shall store the relevant personal information within China, and if they really need to provide it outside China, they must pass the security assessment conducted by the state cyber authorities.

That means that, several years ago, the Chinese government had already begun to regulate the way information processors stored data. It has also placed a higher threshold on the security assessment of data leaving the country.

The draft regulation stipulates several situations in which data processors should make a declaration of a security assessment to cyber authorities when providing data outside the country. 1) Outgoing data contains important information; 2) Data provided by operators that process personal information on up to one million people; 3) Data that contains personal information on more than 100,000 people or sensitive personal information on more than 10,000 people. The cyber authorities should complete the security assessment within sixty working days.

Source: People’s Daily Online, October 29, 2021

DW Chinese: Yahoo Completely Withdraws from China

Deutsche Welle Chinese Edition recently reported that Yahoo issued a statement indicating, from November 1, 2021, users will no longer be able to use Yahoo’s products and services from Mainland China because of the “increasingly challenging business and legal environment.” The announcement also said, “Yahoo is still committed to safeguarding the rights of our users and a free and open Internet. We thank users for their support.” Yahoo’s products and services in other parts of the world will not be affected. In addition, Engadget, a technology media company under Yahoo, also announced that it will shut down its content in simplified Chinese from November 1. Yahoo is the second major U.S. technology company to withdraw from Mainland China in recent weeks. Last month, Microsoft’s LinkedIn announced its closure of business in China, and LinkedIn was the last major US social media in China. In 2015, Yahoo had already closed its R&D center in Beijing.

Source: DW Chinese, November 2, 2021

Global Times: FCC Revoked China Telecom’s Authorization to Operate in the U.S.

Global Times recently reported that, the United States once again unreasonably suppressed Chinese companies in the U.S. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) just announced that it would withdraw China Telecom’s authorization to provide domestic interstate and international communications services in the United States. The FCC voted to revoke China Telecom’s authorization in the name of national security considerations. China Telecom must stop service within 60 days. In 2019, the FCC revoked China Mobile’s authorization and it is currently working on the same action against two other Chinese state-owned companies:  China Unicom and Pacific Networks. At the end of 2020, the New York Stock Exchange announced the initiation of delisting procedures for China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom. While all these things are happening, three major U.S. retailers, Best Buy, Home Depot, and Lowe’s, have also removed products from China’s Hikvision and Dahua Technology on the grounds of so-called “human rights issues.”

Source: Global Times, October 328, 2021

The Paper: Large Numbers of Human Face Pictures Are Sold in China for Low Prices

Well-known new Chinese news site The Paper recently reported that a simple static portrait photo can be transformed into a video after special software processing. Such a video can be used in the facial recognition processes. Since China now regulates the use of mobile phone SIM cards, all SIM cards must be associated with real names. To battle the illegal use of static facial pictures, communications companies now require video responses to certain commands (like blinking) for authentication. Due to the high demand for SIM cards, some criminals are seizing the opportunity to forge people’s facial videos based on static pictures to pass the registration authentication processes. These videos are sold online in large volume for a few U.S. cents per face, which is coupled with actual personal profile information. Current Chinese laws do not specifically stipulate who has the right to collect facial information. Many companies now collect people’s facial information with very weak security measures for privacy protection. This has caused a massive loss of Personal Identifiable Information (PII) to hackers.

Source: The Paper, October 23, 2021

Journalists in China Mandated to Receive 90 Hours of “Continuing Education” Every Year

On October 15, China’s top media regulator, the National Press and Publication Administration, issued a draft interim provision on “Continuing Education for Professional Journalists and Technical Workers.” The provision requires journalists, editors and other news personnel to receive no less than 90 hours of continuing education each year.

The provision states that the continuing education of journalists should “closely focus on the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s) mission for journalism and public opinion work, carry out in-depth education on Marxist journalism,  …  and guide professional journalists and technical workers in using the correct political direction, public opinion and value orientation.”

The contents of the study include policies, regulations, and professional knowledge, as well as new theories and technologies needed for keeping up with the industrial trend. It will become an important qualification for journalists to receive promotions and press credentials.

The provision also emphasizes that doing so is conducive to the building of a team of politically committed, professional, and ethical journalists with whom “the party and the people can have peace of mind.”

This year, the Chinese government has further escalated control over the media. Earlier this month, China’s Development and Reform Commission released a draft of the “Market Access Negative List (2021 Edition),” which requires that private capital shall not engage in the news gathering, editing or broadcasting business.

Source: National Press and Publication Administration, October 15, 2021