Chinese authorities are reportedly interrogating officials from U.S. tech companies about the security features of their devices.
The New York Times, citing anonymous sources briefed on the proceedings, said earlier this month that a panel tied to the Cyberspace Administration of China required tech company employees to appear in person to answer questions about encryption, data storage and other issues.
The questions vary from reviews in Western nations that generally apply to the use of devices by military or government agencies; Chinese officials are concerned about the impact on consumers as well as the government.
U.S. authorities and tech companies, meanwhile, worry that the reviews could be part of an effort to root out espionage or trade secrets.
Companies included in the reviews to date include Apple, Microsoft and Cisco. Apple told a congressional hearing last month that China asked for details about its source code. The tech giant refused, and there's no indication that sensitive information was disclosed as part of the reviews.
The Times, however, reported that companies worry that China could require disclosure of trade secrets in exchange for access to the world's largest market without. Those secrets could then be passed along to Chinese tech rivals or to hackers.
They also worry that other countries could follow suit as the debate over encryption heats up.