China proposed the Global Initiative on Data Security and three principles that should be followed in global digital governance, namely upholding multilateralism, balancing security and development, and ensuring fairness and justice, at the International Seminar on Global Digital Governance held on Sept. 9 in Beijing.
By doing so, it has provided solutions to global issues and shown its sense of responsibility as a major country, which accord with the common expectations from the international community.
“We underscore that all parties should step up dialogue and cooperation on the basis of mutual respect, and join hands to forge a community with a shared future in cyberspace featuring peace, security, openness, cooperation and order,” said the initiative.
“We call on all States to support this initiative, and confirm the aforementioned commitments through bilateral, regional and international agreements,” the initiative continued.
It is a major issue faced by the international community to discuss ways to manage data security risks and promote global governance in the digital domain.
According to the latest statistics, the number of mobile Internet users has reached 3.5 billion around the world, and the digital economy now takes up more than 15 percent of the global GDP.
The explosive growth and aggregation of data, a key element of digital technology, like the discovery of oil, is providing a new source of energy for economic growth and industrial transformation.
At the same time, risks of data security concerning national security, public interests, and personal rights, challenges brought about to the governance capacity of national governments by the frequent and massive cross-border data flow, as well as the compliance costs for global businesses pushed up by the divergence of data laws and regulations in different countries have all led to new requirements for global digital governance.
In the age of economic globalization driven by information technology, the endogenous driving forces for the development of digital technology come from open cooperation.
It suits the trend of times to uphold multilateralism, and develop a set of international rules on data security that reflect the will and respect the interests of all countries through broad-based participation.
Pursuing extensive consultation and joint contribution for shared benefits is the right way forward for addressing the deficit in global digital governance.
Protection of digital security should be based on facts and the law and never go against fairness and justice.
However, U.S. authorities have recently brazenly stirred up an adverse current against the trend of the times and launched the so-called Clean Network initiative, attempting to repeat the country’s hegemonic strategy on global Internet platforms.
In the name of “clean” network and under the guise of safeguarding security, the U.S. has been actually clearing away and preying on leading enterprises of other countries.
By acting in total disregard of international fairness and justice, deliberately setting up digital barriers, and splitting global cyberspace, the U.S. has seriously disturbed and encumbered global digital cooperation and development and aroused public indignation, exposing to the world its greed and hegemonic mentality.
The Internet Society (ISOC) has recently announced a statement, expressing deep concerns over Washington’s Clean Network program and policies the U.S. considers rolling out that would fracture the Internet into pieces.
“The Internet is a global network of networks, where networks interconnect on a voluntary basis with no central authority. It is this architecture that has made the Internet so successful. Today’s announcement of the U.S. Clean Network program challenges this architecture at its very core,” said the ISOC in its statement.
“If this approach were to spread further, the ability of the Internet to bring the broader benefits of collaboration, global reach, and economic growth will be significantly threatened,” the ISOC pointed out.
Countries have the right to protect data security according to law and protecting data security is essential for the sound growth of digital economy. Therefore, China put forward a concrete initiative for the world, and made the following suggestions:
States should handle data security in a comprehensive, objective and evidence-based manner, and maintain an open, secure and stable supply chain of global ICT products and services.
States should stand against ICT activities that impair or steal important data of other States’ critical infrastructure, or use the data to conduct activities that undermine other States’ national security and public interests.
States should take actions to prevent and put an end to activities that jeopardize personal information through the use of ICTs, and oppose mass surveillance against other States and unauthorized collection of personal information of other States with ICTs as a tool.
States should encourage companies to abide by laws and regulations of the State where they operate. States should not request domestic companies to store data generated and obtained overseas in their own territory.
States should respect the sovereignty, jurisdiction and governance of data of other States, and shall not obtain data located in other States through companies or individuals without other States’ permission.
Should States need to obtain overseas data out of law enforcement requirement such as combating crimes, they should do it through judicial assistance or other relevant multilateral and bilateral agreements. Any bilateral data access agreement between two States should not infringe upon the judicial sovereignty and data security of a third State.
ICT products and services providers should not install backdoors in their products and services to illegally obtain users’ data, control or manipulate users’ systems and devices.
ICT companies should not seek illegitimate interests by taking advantage of users’ dependence on their products, nor force users to upgrade their systems and devices. Products providers should make a commitment to notifying their cooperation partners and users of serious vulnerabilities in their products in a timely fashion and offering remedies.
Cyberspace is a common space of mankind. The future of cyberspace should be in the hands of all nations. Seizing digital opportunities for cooperation and development is a choice that conforms to the common interests of various countries in the world.
All stakeholders in digital development, including national governments and enterprises around the world, ought to make concerted efforts to jointly shoulder global responsibilities for the digital age, promote global digital governance, build a community with a share future in cyberspace, and facilitate win-win cooperation and common development.
(Zhong Sheng is a pen name often used by People’s Daily to express its views on foreign policy.)
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