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China Releases Guidance on Cross-border Data Transfer Security Assessment Application

On August 31, 2022, one day before the Measures for Security Assessment of Cross-border Data Transfer (“Measures”) were scheduled to take effect, the Cyberspace Administration of China (“CAC”) released a first edition of its guidance on how organizations should complete the security assessment application (“CAC Guidance”). Covington’s previous posts on the Measures can be found here.

According to the Measures, organizations engaging in cross-border data transfers that trigger the following thresholds must go through a mandatory CAC-led security assessment:

  1. transfers of “important data” out of China (i.e., “any data that, once tampered with, sabotaged, leaked or illegally obtained or used, may endanger national security, economic operation, social stability, and public health and safety”);
  2. transfers of personal information out of China by Critical Information Infrastructure (CII) operators or data processing entities that process personal information of over 1 million individuals; and
  3. transfers of personal information out of China since January 1 of the prior year that consist of the personal information of more than 100,000 individuals, or sensitive personal information of more than 10,000 individuals. 

The CAC Guidance addresses in more detail the requirement to undergo the CAC-led security assessment, and offers companies more information on materials needed and the review process.     

The CAC Guidance provides a list of the required application documents, which include an application form, a copy of cross-border data transfer agreements to be signed with the data recipient(s) outside of China, a self-assessment report on cross-border data transfer risks, as well as some basic documentation on the China-based data exporter (e.g., its business license).  The CAC Guidance also includes a template application form and a template self-assessment report.   

In addition to a general description of data transfer flows (such as an overview of transfer scenarios, transfer purposes, data to be transferred and information on data importers outside of China), certain technical details about cross-border data transmission must be described in the application form.  Specifically, according to a Q&A section of the CAC Guidance, the data exporter needs to describe the data transmission service provider, the number of data transmission lines and bandwidth, and the location of data centers in China and outside of China, as well as IP addresses of such infrastructure.

Covington’s in-house translation of the security assessment application form is available upon request.

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