3rd Ld-Writethru-China Focus: China's legislature adopts online info rules to protect privacy
BEIJING, Dec 28, 2012 (Xinhua via COMTEX) --
3rd Ld-Writethru-China Focus: China's legislature adopts online
info rules to protect
China's top legislature on Friday
approved rules to enhance the protection of personal information
online and safeguard public interests.
The 12-article 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.
"The decision uses the legal form to protect personal
information security, set down the network identity management
policy, clarify the duties of service providers and endow
government watchdogs with necessary supervisory measures," top
legislator Wu Bangguo said at the meeting.
The new rules will help to "promote social harmony and
stability, and safeguard national security" as well as "the
country's lasting political stability," he said.
INTERNET ID POLICY, WORRIES UNNECESSARY
The decision includes an identity management policy requiring
Internet users to use their real names to identify themselves to
service providers, including Internet or telecommunications
"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
telecommunications 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 and public
criticism lodged on 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
Technology (MIIT) show.
Li Yuxiao, an expert on Internet management and law studies at
the Beijing University of Post and Telecommunications, said it
would be "empty talk" to discuss protection rights for individuals
under the condition of complete anonymity.
The identity management policy enables people to "protect their
lawful rights by providing real names while building an
environment of free exchange under anonymity," Li said.
ENHANCED INFORMATION MANAGEMENT
"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
It empowers supervising departments to take necessary measures
to prevent, stop or punish those who infringe upon online privacy
Citizens have the right to demand service providers to delete
digital information that infringes upon their own rights, 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."
Network service providers and other government-sponsored
institutions and companies, as well as government personnel should
strictly ensure the privacy of personal digital information, it
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.
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.
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.
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, MIIT figures show.
"Necessary management measures lack a legal basis," Li said on
Setting legal curbs on the transmission of online information
is a common practice worldwide. More than 90 countries and regions
have special laws regarding the protection of personal information
Analysts have said the new Internet regulations will help,
rather than harm, the country's netizens by establishing a legal
basis to protect Internet users' legal rights and privacy.
Zhan Zhongle, an administrative law professor with Peking
University, said China should set up its own network management
system that suits its own needs to "ensure the safe flow of
The new rules have also drawn attention from Chinese netizens,
with some seeing them as "soothing pills" for those who fear they
could one day be victims of malicious rumors, libel or Internet
"The decision has brought hope to every netizen who has been
worrying about their information security," wrote Sina Weibo user
"The Internet needs not only self-purification, but also
outside discipline," wrote Sina Weibo user "Zhaojian."
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