New data protection laws, concerns addressed at industry event

Li Qian
The latest law involving a safety assessment of outbound data transfers comes into effect on Thursday.
Li Qian
New data protection laws, concerns addressed at industry event

Domestic Internet firms have become increasingly concerned about data security after ride-hailing giant Didi was fined nearly US$1.2 billion for data breach violations.

In response, Pudong, hailed as the largest Internet industry cluster in Shanghai, has held a special event to explain latest policies and give assurances about their development.

The China Internet Network Information Center released a report on Wednesday saying China's netizen population had reached 1.051 billion by June, about 75 percent of the country's total population.

A series of data protection laws and rules have been passed in recent years, the latest of which comes into effect Thursday involving a safety assessment of outbound data transfers.

The laws and rules are in place but Internet firms often find them hard to understand, and for Pudong, the problem is not uncommon.

By the end of 2021, above-scale enterprises in information transmission, software and information technology service have generated revenues of 341.1 billion yuan (US$49.3 billion), the industry scale accounting for 30 percent of the service sector of Shanghai.

Also, Pudong is home to 108 app operation sites with over 20 million downloads, accounting for more than half of the city's total, and a group of Internet firms with global influence.

"We have interviewed these firms and learned they care a lot about data security," said Huang Wei, director of Pudong's cyberspace affairs office. "Common questions include how to actually protect data safety and how to deal with outbound data flow," she added.

At an event held on Wednesday, experts were invited to explain the related laws and rules and answer questions.

"This event is very helpful for Internet firms to get clear on the changing policies," said Xu Yu, deputy director of the innovation research institute of Shanghai's information security evaluation and certification center.

Cao Juntao, chief technology officer of Pudong-based high-tech firm Mengxiang, said his concerns about the laws and rules were dismissed after attending the event.

"I learned that safety investigation is required if we hold the data of over 1 million users and plan to get listed overseas," he added.

Huang Wei hopes the event delivered a message that the cyberspace affairs office is more than just a regulator or watchdog. "It also offers a communication platform for Internet firms, administrating authorities and professional institutes."

Huang added that to better serve local Internet firms and answer their calls, Pudong will apply to the Central Cyberspace Affairs Commission for a green channel for its Internet firms to get listed overseas.

"We hope to get approval for pre-evaluation," she added.

Mengxiang's Cao was happy to hear that. "We plan to get listed within two years," he said.

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