China Tries to Extract Pledge of Compliance From U.S. Tech Firms

China Tries to Extract Pledge of Compliance From U.S. Tech Firms

In this March 28, 2012 photo, Chinese performers hold up cards showing the various apps available for online users for shopping and other services at the launch of a mobile phone in Beijing, China. In an abrupt shift, some 81 percent of China’s 618 million Internet users go online via smartphone or tablet, part of a worldwide trend known as the mobile Internet. The services Chinese users flock to are usually privately owned, while the competitors they leave behind belong to the state. Video websites compete with state TV, online financial services draw deposits away from banks and instant messaging apps take revenue from government-owned phone carriers. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
In this March 28, 2012 photo, Chinese performers hold up cards showing the various apps available for online users for shopping and other services at the launch of a mobile phone in Beijing, China. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

Paul Mozur, THE NEW YORK TIMES

 

 

HONG KONG (The New York Times) – The Chinese government, which has long used its country’s vast market as leverage over American technology companies, is now asking some of those firms to directly pledge their commitment to contentious policies that could require them to turn user data and intellectual property over to the government.

The government distributed a document to some American tech companies earlier this summer, in which it asked the companies to promise they would not harm China’s national security and would store Chinese user data within the country, according to three people with knowledge of the letter who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The letter also asks the American companies to ensure their products are “secure and controllable,” a catchphrase that industry groups said could be used to force companies to build so-called back doors — which allow third-party access to systems — provide encryption keys or even hand over source code.

The document underlines the way China is wielding its power over the American tech industry. Next week, Beijing has also planned a tech forum in Seattle between China’s Internet czar, Lu Wei, and tech companies including Apple, Facebook, IBM, Google and Uber, in a show of how it can get some of the world’s leading tech players to meet even as President Obama has suggested American companies are being hurt by anticompetitive Chinese practices. The forum is timed to coincide with President Xi Jinping‘s first state visit to the United States.

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