US Advises Against Storing Data Within Reach Of China’s Government

The federal Department of Homeland Security is urging U.S. businesses and individuals to avoid storing data with Chinese companies due to the risk the country’s government will demand and receive access to commercially valuable information.

A sharply-worded letter posted on the agency’s website late Tuesday announcing the issuance of a new business “advisory” states in part: “The (People’s Republic of China) presents a grave threat to the data security of the U.S. government and U.S. businesses. It has both the intent and ability to covertly access data directly through entities under the influence or jurisdiction of PRC laws, often without the knowledge or consent of the non-PRC businesses or institutions that maintain rights to the data.”

Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad F. Wolf stated in the  letter: “For too long, U.S. networks and data have been exposed to cyber threats based in China which are using that data to give Chinese firms an unfair competitive advantage in the global marketplace. Practices that give the (Peoples Republic of China) government unauthorized access to sensitive data – both personal and proprietary – puts the U.S. economy and businesses at direct risk for exploitation. We urge businesses to exercise caution before entering into any agreement with a PRC-linked firm.”

The full advisory is 15 pages long and includes a recent history of U.S.-China data battles and a catalogue of the types of information most at risk of theft by the Chinese government. That list includes data related to: technology subject to export controls; intellectual property; biotech; genomics; medical tests; individuals’ personal identification; and geolocation.

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijia responded to the U.S. document, Bloomberg reported, saying his country would “firmly safeguard our security, sovereignty and development interests.”

“Containment and oppression will not stop China growing strong, which will only provoke more contradictions between the two sides and will only make the Chinese people more determined in building a stronger China,” Lijia reportedly added.