The EU has established itself as a leading actor in the field of data protection and privacy with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) entering into effect in spring 2018, replacing the outdated 1995 Data Protection Directive, and enshrining the protection of “European data subjects” everywhere. Further legislation, on e-privacy and trade secrets protection, aspires to expand the EU’s role as innovative regulator. But daunting questions remain: how to balance privacy and transparency in whistleblower protection? And how to retain the EU’s role as global rule-maker in the face of thriving digital economies in the Silicon Valley and East Asia?
Japan has recently signed a comprehensive free trade agreement with the EU, the Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement or JEEPA. JEEPA made some tentative steps towards addressing the digital transformation, yet refrained from the US promoted (and then abandoned) model of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) which enshrined protections for free data flows and against data localization requirements. How will Japan position itself in future vis-a-vis China, the EU and the US: as rule-taker, rule-mediator, or rule-creator?
This paper will unpack the conception of “cyber sovereignty” put forward by the Chinese authorities from both ideational and institutional perspectives. It will first trace out the evolution of Chinese authorities’ understandings of the Internet in the past 20 years and put the recent conception of “cyber sovereignty” in the historical context. Then it will show how the new conception affects Chinese internet regulatory practice, examining the institutional change within the central government, especially the establishment of the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), as a content- layer regulator and a coordinator in the whole cybersecurity regulatory framework. It will also analyze how recent laws and regulations, such as trans-border data transference, embody the idea of cyber sovereignty.
By analyzing Wechat platform’s and its users’ behaviors, this paper assesses the effectiveness of internet governance, especially the informal forms of regulations, and the influence of such behaviors on the practice of different stakeholders involved. This research might be of help to standardize informal social regulations in China’s IT industry, and build an orderly and transparent internet environment with the cooperation among the government, IT practitioners and users of the internet.