China: Internet privacy law passed – What it provides

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A new law in China on the restriction of personal data on the Internet is expected to become a puzzle for strong solvers, while it is not ruled out that problems may arise for foreign companies.

In particular, the China passed a law aimed at preventing abusive assembly personal data from the digital giants and will enter into force on 1the November. The text comes as a reaction to the resurgence of internet fraud in recent years, but mainly to the growing concern of consumers about data leaks.

Under the new law passed by the Standing Committee of the Chinese Parliament, Public and private companies should reduce the collection of citizens’ personal information and secure their prior approval.

It is also expected to bring back to the forefront technology companies such as Didi (driver reservation) or Tencent (video games) that have been targeted in recent months for abusive data collection.


The law aims to prevent “the use of personal data for the purpose of forming a user profile,” a parliamentary spokesman told the New China News Agency earlier this week.

In addition, according to the Athenian-Macedonian News Agency, it is expected to combat “algorithmic discrimination”, a common practice of e-commerce companies which, for the same service, offer different prices to users depending on their shopping history.

The new law is inspired by that of the European Union, which greatly restricts the collection of data from internet giants.

“This new Chinese privacy system is one of the strictest in the world,” the Scheffer Center, a new technology specialist at Trivium China, told AFP.

“With this text, China is not looking at the short term” but “seeks to lay the foundations of the digital economy for the next 40 to 50 years”, emphasizes.

Among other provisions, the text states that personal information of Chinese citizens may not be transmitted to countries that have lower standards than China in this area.

This is a ban that can cause problems for foreign companies.

“It could be a geopolitical puzzle because the United States, for example, does not have a national law on privacy and online data,” Schaefer said.

Indeed, companies will not be able to a priori transfer data to US territory and will have to turn to other countries.


However, in case of non-compliance with the new rules, companies risk fines of up to 50 million yuan (EUR 6.6 million) or even 5% of their annual turnover.

For the most serious violations, authorities can revoke business licenses and even force them to close permanently.

The law considers that sensitive information such as ethnicity, religion or the location of an individual may lead to to “discriminate” and “threaten the safety” of individuals.

This new text is not about the state: it can continue to gather a great deal of data – mainly to identify any dissidents or implement a draconian security policy in the troubled Xinjiang province (northwest).

Chinese cities already have surveillance cameras, some of which are equipped with a face recognition system.

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