New PRC Consumer Rights Law fills legal void governing data privacy protections — get ready for 3/15/2014 effective date

By Belinda Tang and Jim Halpert

The newly revised Consumer Rights and Interests Protection Law of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) (the Consumer Rights Law, promulgated on 25 October 2013 and becoming effective 15 March 2014) is the first revision of China’s old Consumer Rights Law since its promulgation in 1993. The new Consumer Rights Law is an attempt to bring the law in this area up to date to respond to modern business practices. Among the additions are rules governing the collection, use and security of consumer personal information.

The PRC does not have a comprehensive data protection law. Prior to the promulgation of the new Consumer Rights Law, general data privacy protection in China has been largely regulated by the decision of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee on Strengthening Internet Information Protection and the National Standard on Information Security Technology — Guideline for Personal Information Protection Within Information System for Public and Commercial Services, along with other protection provisions scattered across different PRC laws and regulations.

Although the decision is in part applicable to consumer personal information, it covers consumer personal information in electronic form only. The addition of data privacy protection in the new Consumer Rights Law should fill this legal void and make the Consumer Rights Law an integral part of the laws and regulations governing data privacy in China…

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