New scientific data rules in China: China claims "data sovereignty"

In March of this year, the State Council released the Scientific Data Administrative Measures, a set of rules with the seemingly innocuous aim of collecting and making public the results of government-funded scientific research.

 

Dig deeper, however, and the measures have serious, far-reaching consequences for all organizations in China carrying out scientific research, regardless of whether they are publicly or privately funded. Privately-funded research institutions are required to submit scientific data to the Chinese government if they concern state secrets, national security or are in the social and public interest, all of which are vague, malleable concepts open to interpretation. Most troubling of all is the requirement that any data deemed to fall under the open-ended list of broad banners such as "government policy-making, public safety, construction of national defense, environmental protection, fire prevent and control, public benefit scientific research and so forth" must be handed over to government on request free of charge or, exceptionally, on a non-profit making basis. They also have implications for the sharing of research results by Chinese researchers with their overseas counterparts and scientific exchanges.

 

With the new measures being applicable to public and private sector commercial research agencies, as well as other enterprises, and the catch-all style definitions used, there is the very real danger that the Chinese government will henceforth be able to claim 'data sovereignty' over a foreign invested enterprise's valuable research results, potentially including trade secrets, with discretion to determine which data to publish.

 

Read our full analysis here.


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