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Governing Cyberspace in Contemporary China: The Big Data Bureau and the Rise of China’s Data Governance Infrastructure and Digital Capacity

The first systematic analysis of the Big Data Bureau in China

Published onSep 14, 2022
Governing Cyberspace in Contemporary China: The Big Data Bureau and the Rise of China’s Data Governance Infrastructure and Digital Capacity

Abstract: Big data has become one of the most important factors of production in the global economy today. In China, as the market and consumers are increasingly reliant on the digital economy, both firms and governments scramble to collect, control, and exploit big data. How to regulate a data-driven economy becomes a pressing concern to government officials at multiple levels. This paper analyzes the big data governance institutions in China through various case studies of provincial, municipal, and county-level governmental agencies. We examine the differences and similarities in their organizational structures, main functions and tasks, and interactions with other traditional governmental agencies. In particular, we look at how in recent years the promulgation of various data-related laws, such as Personal Information Protection Law, Cybersecurity Law, and Data Security Law, has affected the formation of big data governance institutions and their practices in regulating economic life. We demonstrate that the new laws combine existing governmental agencies to create a multi-level data governance infrastructure, which has fundamentally enhanced state capacity and enabled the government to more effectively confront a wide range of new social and economic challenges.

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