China’s legislature has approved an updated law on personal information protection, to take effect on 1 November.

Though big data brings many advantages, it can breed chaos, according to the country’s official news agency Xinhua. Some platforms collect too much personal information, while some businesses install image-acquisition equipment without authorisation and secretly record customers’ faces and other biological characteristics.

China has always attached great importance to personal information security and the new law clarifies rules on the processing and cross-border providing of personal information, according to Xinhua’s report.

“Currently, the whole of society pays close attention to new technologies such as user profiling and recommendation algorithms, and problems including big data-enabled price discrimination have arisen,” said Zang Tiewei, spokesperson for the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress which voted for the privacy law.

The law prohibits excessive collection of personal information and big data-enabled price discrimination against existing customers.

When automatically pushing information and business marketing, personal information processors should provide individuals with ways to reject the material and options that do not also target personal characteristics, according to the law.

Internet giants with personal data on a large number of users should set up an independent body mainly composed of outsiders to supervise how the information is handled.

The law also states prominent signs should be put up in public places where video or still cameras are used to say that the captured information can only be used to safeguard public security.

As personal information about children under 14 is sensitive, data processors need to formulate special processing protocols for them.

China had 989m internet users by the end of 2020, with 183m of them under 18.


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