Privacy and China – In the Same Sentence?

China’s residents are not used to online privacy – from one of the world’s most repressive and invasive regimes, but there is now an online privacy law called PIPL (Personal Information Protection Law).

It went into effect on November 1 and it will change how companies do business in China – but it won’t change a thing about how the government snoops.

While it may affect local Chinese companies like WeChat, TikTok and others, it will also affect how foreign companies do business in China.

Overseas companies may be blacklisted, which of course could escalate tensions.

Already Yahoo announced it was leaving China and Microsoft’s LinkedIn said it was replacing what we think of LinkedIn with a vanilla job board.

There are a lot of similarities between GDPR and PIPL. In some cases the language was lifted. Right to access your information. Right to correct. Right to Delete. Right to withdraw consent.

Fines can be as high as 50 million yuan ($7.8 million) or 5 percent of annual revenue.

The PIPL regulator is a state agency – the Cyberspace Administration of China. Not exactly independent. Or neutral.

The law now requires companies that collect a lot of data (amount undefined) must store their data in China.

Now that Microsoft and Yahoo have left, who remains is Apple. Apple has created a reality distortion field to keep doing business in China. Possibly this is because of all the manufacturing that it does there and the rare earth minerals it needs from China. In any case, they already conceded the privacy of Apple users years ago.

Companies that want to export data have to go through a security review.

One thing that may be a result of China’s law is that other countries, particularly those in Asia, may also decide that companies have to keep data locally. Vietnam and India are already considering similar rules. Maybe others will follow.

For foreign companies (such as U.S. ones), that could mean changing their business models, their technology stack or even their algorithms.

Or, they may choose to not do business in some countries.

The result could turn the world into a bunch of data islands. Do I care if I don’t see data from people in China? I don’t think so. Not sure that is a horrible result but for some companies it messes with their revenue. Worse yet, it makes them make really hard choices like Apple did. Or it can cause other countries to retaliate. Stay tuned, this battle is far from over. Credit: Wired

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