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China Preps 5-Year Cybersecurity Plan

China is prepping a five-year cybersecurity plan to protect state secrets and data.

According to Reuters, a senior official of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has confirmed that among the items covered will be security for software used by government departments, state-owned enterprises and financial institutions.

Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden last year disclosed documents allegedly showing that the NSA and other spy agencies were in a habit of bundling spyware with American tech exports to China, prompting the country to drop several technology brands from its approved state purchase list.

Then in January, China said that they wanted to enact a plan to force foreign technology vendors that supply Chinese banks to fork over intellectual property, like proprietary source code, for inspection. Also, they would be required to adopt Chinese encryption algorithms, which would presumably make it possible for the central government to access sensitive information at will. Most vendors balked at the prospect, thus potentially leaving China with only homegrown solutions. China's bank regulator put a temporary hold on enacting those guidelines in April while negotiations between governments played out around the proposal.

"What we have been doing very successfully (is) to make clear towards the United States government, the European government, the Japanese government (and) the government of China that this is a concern," said Victoria Espinel, president of industry group BSA The Software Alliance. "It is not good for Chinese companies to be cut off from being able to choose the best products and services they want, it's not good for China ... as an economy."

For now, details of the new plan are non-existent, but tech companies in the US and elsewhere are likely waiting with bated breath—clearly, rapidly industrializing China is a major market.

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