• World Commerce & Contracting
And to add to the series, this excellent outline of issues and status has been provided to us by law firm Baker & McKenzie:
The following notices on "secure and controllable" technology has been issued thus far:
1. Notice Concerning the Use of Secure and Controllable Information Technology to Strengthen Internet Security and Informatization in Relation to Banks (Yinjianfa No. 39 of 2014 ((2014) 39 ) ("CBRC Notice No. 39")
2. The China Banking Regulatory Commission ("CBRC"), National Development and Reform Commission ("NDRC"), Ministry of Science and Technology ("MOST") and Ministry of Industry and Information Technology ("MIIT") jointly issued CBRC Notice No. 39 on 3 September 2014. Although the scope of addresses does not expressly include Chinese branches of foreign banks, the document is required to be delivered to banks and financial institutions which are independent legal persons. We are of the view that if the foreign invested bank is a registered legal person in China, it is likely to be subject to CBRC Notice No. 39.
CBRC Notice No. 39 sets out policy statements by the CBRC, concerning the use of "secure and controllable" information technology in the banking industry. The key points in CBRC Notice No. 39 pertaining to cyber-security are as follows:
* CBRC Notice No. 39 requires that from 2015, the proportion of "secure and controllable" information technology over the total information technology products and software used by each bank should increase at least 15% each year, and reach a minimum of 75% in 2019. The "secure and controllable" information technology products and technologies newly added in 2014 may be included in the calculations for the increase used in 2015.
* CBRC Notice No. 39 appears to suggest that in the selection of information technology products and technologies by banks, at least one "secure and controllable" domestic product or technology has to be considered in the selection and testing process where one exists.
3. Guideline on Advancing the Application of Secure and Controllable Information Technology in Banking Industry (Yinjianbanfa No. 317 of 2014 ( (2014) 317 )) ("CBRC Notice No. 317")
CBRC Notice No. 317 was jointly prepared by the General Administrative Offices of the CBRC and MIIT and circulated on 29 December 2014. As with CBRC Notice No. 39, this document is likely to apply to any foreign invested bank which is a registered legal person in China.
The document contains, inter alia, an annex which sets out the scope of the requirements for "secure and controllable" information technology products and technologies across various product categories, as follows:
* Computer equipment
* Network equipment
* Storage equipment
* Security equipment
* Common software
* Specialized software
* Automated equipment
* Terminal equipment; and
It appears that similar requirements for "secure and controllable" information technology have been introduced to banks in the past. However, these requirements were not closely adhered to due to the lack of implementation details. Given that CBRC Notice No. 39 sets forth formal requirements and CBRC Notice No. 317 provides for implementation details and procedures, banks may now feel more compelled to take the necessary actions to comply with the "secure and controllable" requirement.
With regard to enforcement measures, the CBRC conducts annual audits on banks (at least to the level of State-owned banks and joint-equity commercial banks) to evaluate all aspects of the banks' operation and risk control, and issues audit reports requesting a written response from banks addressing each issue and indicating correctional measures. In addition, the CBRC conducts a larger scale audit on banks every 3 or 4 years. The banks' implementation of the requirements for "secure and controllable" information technology will now be included in such audits for review and assessment.
On 12 February 2015, the CBRC issued a clarification document which provides that the research on how to proceed with the recordal of source code is still ongoing. The mode and process of recordal will only be implemented after the opinions of relevant stakeholders have been sought.
We understand that there have been discussions regarding the promulgation of umbrella laws or regulations relating to internet verification and testing. It is unclear when these umbrella laws or regulations will be issued. However, if it is to be issued as a law, this will require promulgation by the National People's Congress ("NPC") or its standing committee.
If however the umbrella rules will be issued by way of regulations by the State Council or a Ministry, the amount of time required to promulgate the new rules will take a shorter period of time, as it will not need to undergo the legislative process required in the case of passing of laws by the NPC.
It is unclear what these umbrella rules will encompass. However, we expect the umbrella rules to provide more details as to the (a) scope of products subject to the "secure and controllable" requirements; (b) nature of the testing and recordal requirements; (c) type of entities that will be required to purchase "secure and controllable" products and technologies.
Based on the CBRC Notices above as well as the press articles, we anticipate that the umbrella rules are likely to include encryption testing requirements as well as recordal requirements for source codes. We expect these rules will apply to banks (since these are already covered by the CBRC Notices discussed above). However, it is also not beyond the realm of possibility that the "secure and controllable" requirement will also apply to products and technologies purchased by government bodies, the army, key State-owned enterprises, and potentially academic and research institutes in sensitive areas.
Please note that there is no draft regulation at this time available to the public and our views above are based on the ongoing discussions in the press and from our review of the CBRC Notices, as well as our understanding of the cyber-security regulatory environment in China.
China's impending cyber-security measures have not been well-received by U.S. businesses. In a letter addressed to Chinese cybersecurity officials and signed by U.S. associations including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, these standards were described as overly broad and discriminatory. The stricter cyber-security standards could thereby limit the range of US products available to Chinese businesses. The groups have implored the Chinese authorities to delay the implementation of the measures and grant an opportunity for discussion between interested stakeholders and the agencies responsible for the initiatives.
Additionally, the business lobbies have also sent a letter to American officials, including Secretary of State John Kerry, requesting the White House to work with Chinese officials to reverse China's new cyber-security regulations. In response, President Obama has pledged in the National Security Strategy to take necessary actions to protect U.S. businesses and defend U.S. networks against cyber- theft of trade secrets for commercial gain by the Chinese government.