Big Data Dam

China is currently building a “big data dam,” reminiscent of the Great Firewall blocking the internet, to restrict the flow of data across country borders. According to the American Chamber of Commerce in China, the country’s proposed rules to store data within the country will require foreign business to construct expensive data centers in multiple countries. These plans would harm domestic companies too – especially those trying to go global. The efforts over counter-terrorism may be detrimental to China’s image – in addition to reinforcing China’s stigma of restrictive governance, they may prevent innovative companies from reaching a foreign audience.

For example, China’s government suggested a new law that requires internet and telecom firms to keep their data on servers in China and provide public security authorities with encryption keys. Other regulations include population health information management, which prohibits the storage of personal health information outside of the country. Regulations for credit agencies demands for information collected in China to be processed in it as well.

In an attempt to rectify the situation the American Chamber of Commerce called on the US and China to guarantee the free flow of data under a bilateral investment treat. Following a meeting with Chinese leader, US commerce secretary Penny Prtizker declared, “We agreed we all have to address cyber security challenged without creating barriers.” Nevertheless, China is not the only one who wanted to implement a “big data dam.” President Vladimir Putin signed a law that will come into effect in September, which requires data on Russian citizens to be only stored in Russia. The revelations by Edward Snowden are still widely felt across the world, and these current policies could influence the development of the internet.

-- Angela Li