Tuesday, January 25, 2005

China introduces privacy law

The China People's Daily is reporting that China is introducing a privacy law. I am reproducing the article in its entirety, since I had some trouble brining it up at all ...

People's Daily Online -- China to legislate for protection of personal information:

"The expert-suggested draft for the "Law for personal information protection of the People's Republic of China" has been brought out the other day.

As entrusted by the Information Office of the State Council the legislation was drafted by the subject group of some experts from the legal research institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Zhou Hanhua, chief of the subject-group and researcher of the Legal Research Institute of the CASS accepted the interview by the reporter the other day.

Leakage of information incurs big trouble: Just bought a house and gave birth to child business-dealers coming one after another.

"I have a feeling that my personal information is almost known to everybody without any privacy of my own as though I were a 'transparent figure'," said Mr. Xu with emotion recently, who's engaged in IT business. "I wanted to find a job a few months ago without sending out many personal resumes but numerous companies phoned me. I have just bought a new apartment and so far haven't got the key yet many building material dealers and household-moving companies phoned to ask me whether I like to buy sticks of furniture or any building materials. Last year when my wife just gave birth to a child I received a lot of advertisements about articles for babe's use to my home."

"In Chinese tradition personal rights are normally neglected and so the frequent happening of personal information being maliciously infringed." Zhou Hanhua, researcher of the Legal Institute of the CASS said, some schools to prevent from cheat in examination, or to strengthen internal administration installed close-circuit TV equipment for monitoring and so every action and behavior of students were under control. Some places collected more than 100 pieces of personal information when making various kinds of cards for social insurances or other e-cards. This harbors a great danger for abusive use of personal information.

To deal with the problems entailed from the emergence of an informationization society it is required by the Information Office of the State Council that the State Informationization Legislation be hastened. Starting to work on it from 2003, Zhou Hanhua said, the draft of the "Law for Personal Information Protection" as suggested by the expert group has now been completed and will soon be put on the agenda for legislation.

Cellular phone-number, home address, medical files and occupation information are all on the list for protection.

When mentioning the protection of personal information people will at once think of the protection of personal privacy said Zhou Hanhua. "What the 'Law for personal information protection' protects is not only the personal privacy of a citizen but rather a wider scope than the personal privacy, for instance: your cellular phone-number, home address, your medical files, and your occupation and something else. These may not fall into the category of personal privacy but are under the protection of the 'Law for Personal Information Protection'. And if you've delivered your resume to an employer's company it is liable for the company to keep the information for you. Should the other party make your personal information known to others it is considered to have violated the law no matter whether it is intentional or unintentional."

In addition, as to whether an image pick-up should be installed in a public place at will and how to define the behavior for a secret pick-up or recording, the law has laid down a stipulation about it.

For information protection attention better be paid in advance to regulate it from the very sources

The "Law for personal information protection" has to protect personal rights on the one hand Zhou Hanhua is of opinion, and on the other it must not obstruct the normal circulation of information. And for one thing it must offer full protection to the personal information and for another it has to take into consideration the necessary social governance and supervision.

The way for the victim to protect ones personal privacy in the past can more often than not be done by way of a lawsuit when the violation happens by demanding the violator to compensate, said Zhou Hanhua. Now the protection of personal information includes not only the protection after the event but also the interference beforehand, i.e. to regulate the behavior from the very head. For instance, some schools want to install video-pick-ups it should be done when being examined and approved.

Possible to incur criminal liability if violating personal information

According to the law at present, the violation of personal reputation can only be subjected to the liability in accordance with the civil law, Zhou Hanhua said. Once the "Law for personal information protection" is officially brought into force the violation of personal information may not only have to take up administrative and civil responsibilities or even criminal liabilities.

In alien countries the happening of violating personal information is liable to be sentenced to 2 to 3 years of imprisonment if it constitutes a crime, Zhou Hanhua said. How to take up the criminal responsibility in China must be referred to certain particular requirements in the criminal law. And the overseas practices may be taken over for our references.

By People's Daily Online"

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