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Regulatory compliance is a critical consideration when transmitting and storing data. It becomes exponentially complex as different countries have different laws around data residency. This is especially true for businesses wanting to operate in China because of strict internet and privacy laws. Providing internet content To China is a challenge, but it is not impossible to overcome. To ensure data is delivered to China reliably, companies need to stay current on compliance rules, while the other is taking steps to ensure compliance.
China takes Internet security and censorship seriously. On June 1, 2017, the Internet Security Law of the People’s Republic of China came into effect. The verbiage in the Internet Security Law seems to be intentionally vague to ensure broader control over what data is allowed to enter into China. This blurs the lines of what data is acceptable or not, which enables China to censor any content at anytime, for any reason.
China’s insistence in controlling the information pipeline is intended to prevent population dissent. Numerous Internet businesses are already banned in China for violating this policy. However, none of this means that businesses can’t successfully engage with Chinese citizens to sell products and services.
As if the laws weren’t already strict enough, the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party occurs in October, leading to a massive crackdown on digital content. The popular app WhatsApp is being taken down for not adhering to content laws. Even some GIFs of President Xi Jinping aren’t being allowed to be posted.
China’s cyber watchdog is holding group owners and companies accountable for any content posted through their channels. In late September, China handed out the largest possible fines to three tech giants – Baidu Inc., Tencent Holdings Ltd., and Weibo Corp.
No content violations will be tolerated. This means businesses either conform or they’ll be banned. Currently, anyone participating in online chat rooms is required by law to use their real names. This allows China to better monitor who is posting what content. It’s also becoming far more difficult for citizens to use VPNs to circumvent the rules. In the past, many businesses were able to deliver digital content to China thanks to VPNs, but those may no longer be an option as China continues to crack down on all possible ways to bypass security and censorship measures.
All of this may make you believe there isn’t any way to ensure compliance, but there is a way. Apple relies on China for much of its business. In fact, 21% of Apple’s global sales come from iPhone sales in China. However, cybersecurity laws are now requiring companies to store any Chinese citizen’s data within the country. It’s no longer acceptable to store data in foreign data centers or foreign company servers.
While part of the reason is to provide a better experience for users, much of the reason is due to censorship. It’s easier for Chinese officials to monitor data whenever necessary to ensure compliance regulations are met. Apple’s approach is the same route many other businesses are taking – building or using a data center within China. For giants like Apple, building a new data center makes sense. For other businesses, it’s too much of an expense, even at the risk of losing millions should China ban their sites, services, products and/or apps.
The solution is to store or rent servers in an existing data center in China. Your business is then able to store all data related to the Chinese side of the business within China’s borders, complying with their cybersecurity law. Of course, you’ll still need to comply with other content rules. Plus, you’ll have the benefit of offering better performance to your customers by having their data stored closer to them.
Establishing a digital presence in China doesn’t have to be an insurmountable task. Let the experts at Zenlayer guide you through the process and ensure regulatory compliance so you don’t miss out on this massive market.