Privacy in China: New Rule to Protect Personal Information


The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC) of the People’s Republic of China adopted a Decision Relating to Strengthening the Protection of Information on the Internet (the Decision) on December 28, 2012. The text is brief and general, covers only electronic personal information, and took effect immediately.

Since the rapid development of e-commerce and other online activities in China during recent years, the protection of personal information is a widely discussed topic and examples of breaches of confidential personal data are numerous. The Decision appears to be a double-edged sword that provides a clear legal framework to protect personal digital information but also increases the opportunity for the government to control the activities of Chinese netizens.

Among the many interesting points raised by the Decision, it is important to note that it was adopted by the Standing Committee of the NPC. The Standing Committee is empowered to pass laws that are national in scope that sit just below “basic laws” (basic laws have nationwide application and relate to tantamount aspects pertaining to the State and/or Chinese society). Being adopted by a top PRC institution gives much credibility to the Decision.

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