US, China agree on guidelines for requesting assistance in cyber crime fight

US and China have reached an agreement on guidelines for requesting assistance on cyber crime.
US and China have reached an agreement on guidelines for requesting assistance on cyber crime.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

WASHINGTON/SAN FRANCISCO (REUTERS) - The United States and China have reached an agreement on guidelines for requesting assistance on cyber crime or other malicious cyber activities, the US Justice Department said on Wednesday (Dec 2).

The agreement was reached in talks in Washington this week among officials including US Attorney General Loretta Lynch, US Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and Chinese Public Security Minister Guo Shengkun.

The Justice Department said in addition to the agreement, China and the US will conduct "tabletop exercises" in the spring with a number of scenarios designed to improve understanding of the expectations for response and cooperation.

The talks had long been planned to follow a landmark agreement between the two countries reached in September. The next round will come in June, the Justice Department said.

China's Ministry of Public security said the agreement would have a "major impact" on the implementation of internet security measures, adding that the two sides resolved to maintain frank discussion on the issue.

The statement made no mention of a report from China's Xinhua news agency this week on the hacking of sensitive personnel records on people holding US security clearances at the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) last year. Xinhua said the hacking was criminal, not state-sponsored.

The Washington Post reported Wednesday that multiple people had been arrested in that case, which compromised data on more than 22 million federal workers, though people close to US officials told Reuters they believed it was a legitimate intelligence target and a government-sponsored intrusion.

US officials have said they are unaware of any evidence demonstrating that the hacked OPM data had been used for any nefarious purposes.