Earlier this week, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology released draft plans for strengthening the country’s cybersecurity industry over the next three years.
It comes as part of a larger effort to shore up data privacy and governance in China, the Cyberspace Administration of China over the weekend also proposed draft rules for regulating data-rich tech companies. The rules would require companies with over 1 million users–like social media platform TikTok to undergo security reviews before listing overseas.
This comes on the heels of a serious show of force from the Chinese government. Quartz’s Jane Li writes that Didi, the world’s largest ride-hailing service, (following the first national security review of a Chinese tech giant) was banned from all app stores in China after its IPO. Reporting from the Wall street Journal indicates that the Chinese government asked Didi to undergo auditing before listing in the U.S., citing security concerns.
According to reporting by Time’s Charlie Campbell, the shift in regulation is a show of force from the Chinese government in response to the outsized power and potential systemic impact of tech companies: “Last year Alibaba was fined a record-breaking $2.75 billion for antitrust violations, while the IPO of its fintech arm, Ant Group, was nixed. Dozens of other firms have been fined or sternly warned.”
The shift comes, writes Campbell, because “China is waking up to the fact that data is the new gold and it needs explicit rules to govern how it is accumulated and shared. In April 2020, China released a policy document that significantly listed data as a “factor of production” alongside the four traditional factors of socialist economic policy: land, labor, capital and technology.”
If data is the new gold, then the war to secure it could be considered the new gold rush.