Data security is a major player in national governance

By AN JING / 03-03-2021 / (Chinese Social Sciences Today)

Fuzhou Strait International Conference & Exhibition Center is the main venue of the 3rd Digital China Summit that took place in October 12-14, 2020.  Photo: Zhang Bin/CNSphoto

Data security involves the ability to ensure the effective protection and legitimate use of data by means of necessary measures and the ability to render data in a constant secure state. Different from cyber security, the core of data security is to guarantee the safe, legitimate, and orderly flow of data. As a new-type factor of production, data profoundly affects the national economy and social development. 
First, the ability to ensure data security directly demonstrates the competitiveness of a country. As big data is widely applied to the field of governance, national governance abilities in China have been effectively enhanced. What data means for national development is self-evident. It is an important concern for China’s data security work to ensure the positive role of data in boosting economic and social development, and the latent danger brought by data security must be avoided. 
China has accelerated its pace in legislating data security, and several laws were enacted. Several major economies and countries in the world have released new data strategies centered on developing the digital economy and protecting data security. Such examples are A European Strategy for Data issued by the EU and the Federal Data Strategy and 2020 Action Plan issued by the US. The ability to guarantee data security has become an important indicator to evaluate a country’s competitiveness. 
Second, data protection and security is a crucial aspect of national security. The State Council in China released the Action Plan to Promote Big Data Development in 2015, and put forward the important statement that “data has become the fundamental strategic resource for a country.” According to a report from the International Data Corporation (IDC), the average annual growth rate of China’s data volume from 2018 to 2025 will reach 30%, which will surpass the global average. In 2025, China’s datasphere will grow to 48.6 zettabytes and emerge as the largest datasphere in the world, forecasted to comprise 27.8% of the global datasphere. With the surge of data volume and increasingly frequent cross-border data flows, strong surveillance will become an important guarantee for national security. Since data is closely related to economic functioning, social governance, public service, the leak of personal privacy, enterprises’ operation data, and key national data will bring in all sorts of lurking dangers to national security. 
Cross-border attacks which target data have been more and more frequent on a global scale, becoming a new cross-border crime that challenges the security of sovereign states. China highly values the importance of data security. The Data Security Law (Draft) of the People’s Republic of China issued in July, 2020 has clarified the nation’s legal responsibility to protect data security. The Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee’s proposals for formulating the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) for National Economic and Social Development and the Long-Range Objectives Through the Year 2035 make clear that China will place a higher premium on “safeguarding national data security and strengthening the protection of personal information.” 
Third, secure and orderly data is the basis for the healthy development of a digital economy. Impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the world economy has collapsed into recession, and traditional commerce and trade, as well as international trade have all suffered huge blows. The healthy development of a digital economy is thus of great importance for the world’s economic recovery. In today’s China, the digital economy has gained new momentum and infiltrated into all sectors of the national economy in a profound way. For example, new business forms such as live-stream sales, online games, online education, and online work have rapidly expanded. With strong results in stimulating the domestic demand and expanding consumption, the digital economy has facilitated the recovery and growth of the Chinese economy. New opportunities have also been generated with new employment posts created for individual development, which ensured a normally functioning economy through the pandemic period. In this robust growth stage of the digital economy, data security is the key. 
At last, it is vital to strengthen international cooperation concerning data security. On September 8, China launched the Global Data Security Initiative, and advocated for the balanced handling of relationships between technological progress, economic development, and protecting national security and social public interests. Data security has increasingly become a crucial topic for China’s multilateral diplomacy, and an important aspect of China’s participation in global digital governance. The proposal of Global Data Security Initiative demonstrates China’s active attitude towards global digital governance and its commitment to building a peaceful, secure, open, cooperative, and orderly cyber community of shared future. In strengthening the secure and orderly flow of data, and formulating the global digital governance rules, China will continue to contribute more of its wisdom and solutions to the world. 
An Jing is from the School of Marxism Studies at the University of Science and Technology Beijing. 
Edited by BAI LE