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The Unexportable Datasets of China

China has long been thought of as a gold mine for data businesses by local entrepreneurs. This is not only thanks to the large population offering a deep pool of behavioural data, but also because of the physical proximity to China-based hardware manufacturers, which provides an unparalleled short cut for Chinese data providers looking to track mobile internet users.

A decade ago, few would have asked whether there might be restrictions on the exportation of alternative data from China. Rather, the conversation centered around a wave of new data types that could be collected and monetized. However, in the past five years, China has seen a rapidly evolving regulatory environment. Numerous measures, industry standards and laws concerning cyberspace governance have been newly promulgated.

In a recent acknowledgement by the Chinese government, ‘Data’ itself has been identified as one of the country’s five crucial production factors (April 9, 2020).
In this intelligence report, we attempt to seek an answer to the following:

  • How has China’s government interacted with the technology-driven internet sector in the past two decades?
  • Will its governance approach extend to the data-rich era of Industrialization 4.0?
  • How have China-based alternative data providers responded to uncertainties in the current regulatory framework?

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