In a rare move, IBM allowed the Chinese government to review source code to some of its products, the Wall Street Journal reports. Officials from China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology reportedly reviewed IBM’s source code in a secure space where they couldn’t remove the data; the decision was reportedly made to calm Chinese fears that IBM software would present a security risk.
The Wall Street Journal’s Eva Dou says the practice is new, and that information on which products China was given source code access to is unclear. According to the newspaper’s source, Chinese authorities only have access to the source code for a short period of time and don’t have the opportunity to audit it in detail.
Earlier this year, IBM came under fire in the New York Times for its willingness to work with the Chinese government, especially in terms of giving access to its inner workings to Beijing authorities.
While American tech companies have been widely resistant to gestures such as IBM’s, the Chinese government is taking an increasingly assertive stance towards foreign vendors working in the insanely lucrative Chinese IT market. The question now remains whether IBM’s decision is simply an anomaly or a sign of closer collaboration between Beijing and large American tech firms.