China turns up the heat in the battle against abuses of personal data

Despite the apparent sidelining of the draft Personal Data Protection Law, which has been circulating since 2006, but appears to have little prospect of becoming law in the foreseeable future, China has nonetheless been very busy stepping up the battle against the abuse of personal data from a legislative perspective in recent years.

As is well known, China does not have a single comprehensive data protection law and hence historically many actions that actually relate to personal data protection have been brought under different guises, such as actions for infringement of rights to reputation or rights to image under the General Principles of Civil Law first effective 1 January 1987. In fact, rights to privacy can be traced back to the People’s Republic of China Constitution (the PRC Constitution) which treats a citizen’s communications (e.g. telephone conversations, letters, emails) as private information.

Article 40 of the PRC constitution stipulates that neither any organisation nor individual is permitted to infringe upon, among other things, the confidentiality of a citizen’s communications for any reason, except in the case of national security, investigation of a criminal offence, or monitoring by the public security or prosecutorial authorities in accordance with legally prescribed procedures…

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