The Wall Street Journal reports on discussions between the United States and China concerning online security and privacy questions for “cloud computing services.” Cloud services are where you upload, store and access your data at an online service owned or operated by others. Here’s a previous post I wrote discussing privacy and security issues with cloud computing, such as the fact that the physical location of the “in the cloud” server where the data is housed could be in any country and subject to the laws of the host country, which could be less protective of the data than the United States’ laws. This is an important questions because China has been criticized for the restrictions it imposes on its citizens for free speech and Internet access.
The Journal reports:
BEIJING—U.S. officials urged China to address network-security and privacy concerns of Western companies, saying the rise of network-based services conflicts with Chinese restrictions and its treatment of user data.
Global companies hope to include China and other countries as they add to their so-called “cloud-computing” services, which store and share documents and other data on networks of remote computer servers. But for China to participate, said one U.S. official, it has to “convince Western companies on security and on privacy.” […]
Companies ideally locate data centers close to users for better performance, but companies often consider other factors when building data centers as well, such as infrastructure, security and privacy, and the local regulatory environment.
Information stored in data centers based in China, for example, is subject to Chinese law and vulnerable to seizure by the government. U.S. Internet company Yahoo Inc. experienced a conflict several years ago when it gave information to Chinese authorities that led to the imprisonment of one of its email users, Chinese journalist Shi Tao, a move that later drew criticism from U.S. lawmakers.
Many Western companies, including those with users based in China, choose to host key services outside that nation or others with similar regulations on data. In China, this results in spotty access to overseas Internet services, some of which are blocked by the Chinese government’s filtering technology. […]
The U.S. official’s remarks came as a delegation from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday ended a trip to Beijing, where officials discussed market access, Internet freedom and intellectual-property protection with Chinese regulators. FCC officials met with China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology as well as the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television and the State Internet Information Office, they said. […]
In addition to cloud computing, U.S. and Chinese regulators also discussed coordination on the allocation of radio spectrum, or the airwaves that can be used to provide mobile phone and Internet services, the official said. With rising smartphone use in both nations, U.S. officials say it will be increasingly important to collaborate on standards for optimizing spectrum for the use of mobile data.