Microsoft, others balk at sharing source code with China under new cybersecurity rules

Arif Bacchus

In the world of a technology, one of the many best-kept and most important company secrets is source code. China, unfortunately, has new cybersecurity laws which require software companies, network equipment makers, and other technology suppliers to reveal their source code in order to prove that their software isn’t hackable, and Microsoft isn’t too happy with it (via The Wall Street Journal).

Technology giants such as Microsoft, Intel, and IBM are filing objections to the Chinese regulations, and are claiming that giving up source code could put it into the hands of hackers, and even rival companies. Citing claims from Edward Snowden, authorities in China, however, believe that the regulations are to protect the Chinese government against spying and espionage tools which are supposedly built into the U.S. and foreign software being used in the country.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Microsoft believes that “allowing visitors to view code at its new “Transparency Center” in Beijing should suffice, rather than having to “share source code.”  In a statement released by government cyber security committee, the company also said:

“Sharing source code in itself can’t prove the capability to be secure and controllable…  It only proves there is source code.”

The legislation in question was originally passed last month on November 7th, and is scheduled to go into effect in June 2017. Since China (and also Russia) are famous for stringent cyber security policies, it remains unlikely if there will be any further push back (such a total exit from China) from U.S. tech companies.