The Personal Information Protection Law protects people’s personal data. VCG
In the weeks leading up to this year’s Double Eleven shopping festival, Peng Ling, a college student, received numerous advertising messages on her phone. The confusing thing was that some online shops were new to her. “I never bought things from some of the shops, so how could they know my phone number?” Peng told CCTV News.
When our personal information is leaked for the purpose of marketing, it can be quite annoying. But it would be even worse if our data is used for much more serious acts, such as communication fraud.
On Nov 1, the Personal Information Protection Law came into effect in China. The law has detailed rules to strengthen the protection of personal information.
The law defines personal information as any kind of information about people who are or can be identified, in electronic or other form. So a person’s name, date of birth, ID number, address and phone number are all personal information.
There are also some kinds of personal information that are regarded as “sensitive”, such as fingerprints, faces, religious beliefs, medical health, financial accounts and all data relating to minors under 14.
According to the law, activities such as collecting, using, processing and trading of personal information will be strictly regulated. One key rule is that those handling personal information should inform users and get permission. For sensitive information, there are stricter rules on related activities. For example, in the case of a minor, approval from their parents is required.
Many apps would collect users’ information even when the app was not in use. They could access the phonebook, photos, turn on the microphone and get the users’ location. That’s why protection of personal information is needed, according to Zhou Hanhua, a researcher with the Institute of Law of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
For individuals, it’s important to raise awareness of protecting personal information, as China Consumers Association suggested. Individuals need to fully understand the requests for personal information. If it’s not necessary, don’t agree. If you find that your personal data has been used illegally, you can report to consumer councils or cyberspace administrations with evidence.