Data transfers EU – China: the next battle?

von Veronica Mino

A key finding of the recent ad hoc civil liberties mission to China suggests that the country does not secure an adequate level of data protection due to the lack of specific legislation addressing the processing of personal data[1].

A group of members of the European Parliament (MEPs) from the European People’s Party have therefore requested the European Commission to clarify the existing guarantees for data transfers into China.

The question posed to the Commission on June 17th 2016 states that personal data flows from the EU to China have become a “pressing reality”. China has, indeed, adopted an aggressive commercial policy in order to attract the installation of data centers within its frontiers. As a matter of fact, Chinas has constructed an “International Offshore Cloud Computing Zone” in Chongqing and opened up the “Shanghai Free Trade Zone to foreign investors”.

The involved MEPs question also the Commission’s monitoring of the consequences of the so-called “big data dam” that China is allegedly building. A new law on counter-terrorism took effect on January 1st, for example, which would require internet and telecom companies to provide the authorities with technical support and, in certain cases, with the encryption keys to data, including decryption of user’s sensitive data, in order to investigate and fight terrorism[2]. China’s government has also proposed other laws regarding data mobility, relating, for example, to health and credit data[3] ...

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