China’s controversial Cyber Security Law (CSL) that’s had foreign companies panicking to figure out how to get compliant will take effect tomorrow, June 1, 2017.

This law was passed last November and is largely aimed at protecting China's networks and private user information, at a time when the WannaCry epidemic showed any country can be vulnerable to cyber threats.

This is China’s first law addressing cyber security issues at the national level, but multinational companies (MNCs) have begged the Chinese government to delay implementation amid concerns about unclear requirements and how the law will affect personal information and cloud computing.

The focus is on Critical Information Infrastructure (CII) Operators, infrastructure that could harm the Chinese people’s livelihoods. This includes power and utility providers, transportation services, and financial institutions, but also includes any foreign company that is a key supplier to a ‘critical’ sector or holds significant amounts of information on Chinese citizens.

In addition, certain technologies will now be required to pass a ‘national security review’ hosted by the Cyberspace Administration of China and other industry regulators to ensure the technology cannot be illegally controlled or interfered with before CII operators are able to use them.

Under the CSL there is a lot of focus on ‘Personal Information’ and ‘Important Data’, both of which being just as vague as you could imagine. According to the CSL, personal information is defined as “information that taken alone or with other data is sufficient to ascertain an individual’s identity, including birth dates, phone numbers, addresses, and identity card numbers.” Important Data is defined as data closely related to national security, economic development, and social public interests.

Network and CII Operators will also be required to localize all personal and important data to China, and a security self-assessment or approval from the relevant regulator will be required before transferring any data abroad.

The compliance risks associated with CSL is concerning, so it’s important that organizations have a clear understanding of these standards and undergo a top to bottom risk assessment to better prepare for what’s in store.


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