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China’s Big Data Industry on the Rise

The scale of China’s big data industry is estimated to surpass three trillion RMB by 2025, with a compound growth rate of about 25%, according to a development plan for the big data industry during the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-2025) released by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT).

The plan also proposes to primarily establish an evaluation system for data element value, make the foundation of the big data industry more solid, create a stable and efficient industrial chain, and promote the positive development of the industrial ecology.

To achieve the goals, China will accelerate the cultivation of the data element market and transform the advantages unique to big data into important driving forces for the high-quality development of the industry.

The arrangement of telecommunications infrastructure is to be accelerated, including setting up an integrated national big data centre and a big data centre for the industrial Internet. Technological innovation and standardisation will be strengthened as well.

Regarding building a stable and efficient industrial chain, the plan puts forward a value enhancement action of big data in raw materials, equipment manufacturing, consumer goods and electronic information. There will be another action of big data development and application in nine fields, including telecommunications, finance and medical treatment.

To build a good industrial ecology, China plans to encourage the development of concerned enterprises, optimise the public service through big data and promote the clustering development of the big data industry.

Data security is also emphasised in the plan. The country aims to enhance its ability in data security management, reinforce the management of cross-border data security and set up a monitoring system for data security. MIIT also simultaneously released a development plan for the software and information technology services sector, and one on integrating China’s industrial sector with information technologies.

MIIT also called for improved cross-border security management of big data till 2025, in a five-year plan. The plan comes as the country has pushed forward its regulatory framework for data and technology. It re-affirms data as a factor of production and a national strategic resource.

The plan contains six key tasks, including improving the marketisation of data, improving computing power, and playing a leading role in developing global technology standards. It also called for the strengthening of the management of cross-border data flows and more support for open source initiatives.

Beijing implemented two key laws this year – the Personal Information Protection Law and the Data Security Law, which govern how companies and organisations may store and move data. As reported by OpenGov Asia, the Personal Information Protection Law makes provisions prohibiting the excessive collection of personal information and big data-enabled price discrimination against existing customers. According to the law, when pushing information and business marketing to individuals through automated decision-making, personal information processors should refrain from targeting users’ personal characteristics and offer ways for them to reject the offer.

The law also mandates the suspension or termination of services for apps that illegally process personal data. Prominent signs must be put up in public places where image acquisition and personal identification equipment are installed, stipulating that the collected images and identification information can only be used to safeguard public security.

Sensitive personal information, such as one’s biological data, religious beliefs, health, financial information and whereabouts, and the personal information of the minors under 14, is protected under the law. It can only be processed for a specific purpose, sufficient necessity and strict protection measures.

Chinese internet companies have already introduced measures to reflect their information protection obligations, some even before the law’s implementation. China’s e-commerce giant issued a notice on its open platform to strengthen the protection of sensitive information in consumer orders, launching a consumer sensitive information protection plan to encrypt sensitive information.

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