U.S. To Pressure China on Crypto Rules

The U.S. government reportedly will take its concerns about China’s proposed encryption disclosure rules to the six-day World Economic Forum conference getting underway in Davos, Switzerland.

According to a Reuters report, the U.S. will urge China to explain the new regulations on encryption technology, which are due to come into effect on Monday.

U.S. Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky told Reuters, “I’ll be meeting with the Chinese in Davos and this is going to be an important subject of discussion.”

Tough New Regulations

Under regulations announced by China this week, all foreign and Chinese companies or individuals using encryption technology to protect electronic communication from eavesdropping must register with the government.

The move is seen as a first step to force foreign companies to reveal their encryption secrets, and could lead to an outright ban on foreign encryption products in China.

Foreign investors have expressed fear that the rules could open the door to mass copying of sophisticated encryption codes and procedures by Chinese companies.

WTO Membership in Jeopardy

Critics said the new rules threaten to complicate Chinese efforts to join the World Trade Organization (WTO). Rep. Christopher Cox (R-California), co-author of a scathing report on U.S. technology transfers to China, said China’s move “flies in the face of their stated willingness to live by the norms of the World Trade Organization,” according to Reuters.

China yesterday attempted to placate foreign investors. Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhu Bangzao told reporters, “This will not affect the pace of foreign companies entering China.”

The new regulations could affect sales of everything from Internet servers and desktop software to mobile phones and cable TV systems.

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