2nd Ld: China's legislature adopts online info rules to protect privacy
BEIJING, Dec 28, 2012 (Xinhua via COMTEX) --
China's top legislature on Friday
approved rules to enhance the protection of personal information
online and safeguard public interests.
The decision on strengthening online information protection,
which has the same legal effect as a law, was adopted by lawmakers
at the closing meeting of a five-day session of the Standing
Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC).
The move is meant to "ensure Internet information security,
safeguard the lawful rights and interests of citizens, legal
entities or other organizations, and safeguard national security
and public interests," according to the decision.
The 12-article decision includes an identity management policy
requiring Internet users to use their real names to identify
themselves to service providers, including Internet or
"Network service providers will ask users to provide genuine
identification information when signing agreements to grant them
access to the Internet, fixed-line telephone or mobile
telecommunication services or to allow users to post information
publicly," the decision says.
At a press conference on Friday, a senior member of the top
legislature allayed public concern that the new decision could
hamper the exposure of corruption cases online, public criticism
lodged on the Internet and the supervisory role of the Internet.
Such worries are "unnecessary," said Li Fei, deputy director of
the Commission for Legislative Affairs of the NPC Standing
"Identity management work can be conducted backstage, allowing
users to use different names when posting material publicly," Li
said earlier this week while briefing lawmakers on the decision.
Many Internet and telecommunications operators have already put
identity management into practice in China. The new decision aims
to improve the policy through legislation, according to Li.
By November, almost all fixed-line phone users and 70 percent
of mobile phone users have registered with their real names.
Unregistered users are mainly owners of prepaid mobile phone
cards, figures from the Ministry of Industry and Information
Network service providers will strengthen management of
information released by users, the decision says.
Service providers are required to immediately stop the
transmission of illegal information once it is spotted and take
relevant measures, including removing the information and saving
records, before reporting to supervisory authorities, the decision
It empowers supervising departments to take technical and other
necessary measures to prevent, stop or punish those who infringe
upon online privacy rights, requiring relevant service providers
to offer support during investigations.
Citizens who find network information that discloses their
identity or infringes upon their own rights, as well as those who
are harassed by promotional messages, have the right to demand
that service providers delete related information or take other
necessary measures to stop such practices, it says.
The decision says authorities will protect digital information
that could be used to determine the identity of a user or that
which concerns a user's privacy.
It bans all organizations and individuals from obtaining
people's personal digital information via theft or other illegal
means, and prohibits them from selling or illegally providing the
information to others.
Violators can face penalties, including the confiscation of
illegal gains, license revocations and website closures, as well
as a ban on engaging in the web-related business in the future,
according to the decision.
The decision also specifies norms and duties for network
service providers regarding the collection, use and protection of
citizen's personal digital information.
Service providers will explicitly state their goals, means and
scope when collecting or using information, release related rules
and obtain users' consent before obtaining the information.
Network service providers and other government-sponsored
institutions and companies should strictly ensure the privacy of
personal digital information, it says.
The decision bans service providers, as well as government
agencies and their personnel, from leaking or damaging users'
digital information. It also bans them from selling or illegally
providing this information to others.
Network service providers are also responsible for taking
measures to ensure the safety of information during business
activities and adopting countermeasures when information is
leaked, damaged or lost, it says.
To tackle surging public complaint regarding spam messages, the
decision bans organizations and individuals from sending
commercial digital information to fixed-line phones, mobile phones
or personal email addresses without users' consent.
The decision also encourages the public to report illegal
activity involving online information to supervisory departments.
A rapidly growing Internet industry and a frail system of laws
to protect personal information are behind the increasing amount
of online scams, fraud, identity theft and libel in China.
"Necessary management measures lack a legal basis," Li said at
the press conference.
By November this year, China's mobile phone users exceeded 1.1
billion, 3G users had reached 220 million and broadband Internet
users stood at 174 million, figures from the Ministry of Industry
and Information Technology show.
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