US firms rebuff Chinese encryption requirements

U.S. companies are calling for an “urgent discussion” with the Chinese government to discuss new cybersecurity rules that would mandate U.S tech firms adopt encryption with a backdoor to give government officials access while operating in China, according to multiple reports.

The New York Times first reported the new slate of regulations, which are expected to be released in the coming months. They would require that companies give the Chinese government any secret source code and submit their company to thorough audits, in addition to the backdoor access for government agencies.

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A group of U.S. business groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, sent a letter to top Communist Party officials complaining about the regulations.

U.S. tech firms have been keen to expand into China’s booming market, but have faced an increasing level of government barriers. China has recently blocked major online services such as Gmail, and is suspected of hacking Apple and Microsoft’s services in the country.

The U.S. and China have been at odds over cybersecurity since the Obama administration in May 2014 indicted five members of the Chinese army for hacking the U.S. The move caused the Chinese to pull out of a joint cyber working group and step up oversight of U.S. tech companies operating in China.

The Chinese have partly defended their restrictions by accusing the Obama administration of supporting similar policies for tech companies operating domestically.

Obama recently came out in favor of preserving some type of government access to tech products for law enforcement purposes.