Data Protection and Privacy in China

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China does not currently have a comprehensive legal framework to regulate the use and disclosure of personal data nor a national level law that delineates how a company can legally collect, process and retain data together with legal remedies for specific violations. The relevant rules are scattered in diverse laws, regulations and local ordinances.

The right to privacy is upheld in principle by the PRC constitution and Civil Law Principles. The PRC Constitution provides that a citizen’s personal dignity is specifically protected as a fundamental right. Although the Constitution fails to define what constitutes personal dignity, most Chinese legal scholars take the view that personal dignity should include certain privacy rights. Despite the fact that the term privacy is referenced in certain PRC laws and judicial interpretations, the scope of privacy protection (including the right to restrict public access to personal information) has not yet been expressly codified or addressed in detail by the PRC courts.

A number of diverse laws and regulations refer in general terms to the right to privacy. For example, relevant laws and regulations impose duties on inter alia courts, notaries, social insurance authorities, statistics authorities, hospitals, tour guides, real estate brokers, life insurance companies and internet retail platforms to keep confidential personal information that they obtain in the course of their work or business.

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