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Asia Pacific Dashboard Digest | Notes from the Asia-Pacific region, 20 August 2021 Related reading: Roundup: EU, Ireland, Saudi Arabia, US and more

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Dear privacy pros, 

I hope you have been enjoying the new perspectives provided by my colleagues from the regional IAPP Advisory Groups.

One of the things I reported on in my last introduction was the apparent crackdown on Chinese companies that are attempting to list overseas, following regulatory actions undertaken against Didi and other Big Tech companies. The requirement for such companies to undergo a security review by the Cybersecurity Administration of China if they process personal data of more than 1 million users makes the CAC an additional gatekeeper before the foreign initial public offering can take place.

An interesting footnote to this is that it was subsequently reported that the Chinese government is considering issuing an exemption to this requirement for Chinese companies going public in Hong Kong. While the CAC will still vet the application, the exemption, if granted, will likely make the process for listing in Hong Kong far less tedious than a listing in, say, the U.S.

From the recent ban on Bitcoin mining operations, which prompted the great "hashrate" migration from China to the U.S. and other countries, to the massive crackdown on the private tutoring sector, which threatens to upend a $120 billion industry and put millions of jobs at risk, there is a clear trend suggesting the Chinese government will continue to flex its considerable political muscle in other ways.

While the causes leading to these regulatory actions are varied and complex, perhaps a unifying thread is the underlying need for the Chinese government to exert more control, or prevent the loss of control, over its citizenry. It may be useful to view the draft Personal Information Protection Law, which was recently submitted (article in Chinese) to the Chinese National People's Congress Standing Committee for a third review, through this lens.

While the revised draft PIPL contains many provisions that would undoubtedly enhance consumer rights and protection of personal data, including rules (article in Chinese) around automated decision-making and discriminatory pricing through algorithmic means, the key may reside in how the provisions will be enforced when the PIPL is finally passed. Will the PIPL be used to afford Chinese citizens greater rights and individual autonomy, or will it be another lever to shift the balance of power between the public and private sectors? Only time will tell.

Recent articles suggest that, other than the PIPL, there may be a spate of new laws on national security, unfair competition, critical infrastructure and other topics coming down the pipeline. Clearly, it behooves all our readers to watch this space very closely.

As always, happy reading!

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