China's top legislature on Friday adopted a law on the protection of people's personal information－a widely anticipated item of legislation as the public has long been bothered by data misuse and privacy leakage.
The Personal Information Protection Law, passed after being reviewed three times by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, gives definitions of "personal data" and "sensitive personal data". For example, it says biometric recognition, religious belief, medical and health information, financial accounts and movement tracks are all "sensitive" personal data.
The law, which comes into effect on Nov 1, also clarifies principles in handling personal data. For example, it stipulates that those handling personal information should inform users and get permission from data owners before collecting, storing, using, processing, transferring, disclosing, providing or deleting the data.
Personal information handlers need to let users know their principles, purposes and methods of personal data collection and usage, and not excessively collect user data.
As many people have been troubled with, and often complained about, cameras installed to record their personal information, the law stipulates that equipment for collecting people's images or recognizing their identities should be set up in public places only for maintaining public security, and they should be given obvious signs.
As operators nowadays often send information or marketing promotions to people via automated software or programs, which has bothered many people, the law requires information processors to offer options for users to reject such automatic notifications.
It also says "no" to applications that give different prices to users, based on assessing their consumption preferences and income level by using big data.
Applications that improperly handle personal information will face suspension or termination of service.
In recent years, China has accelerated legislative measures to safeguard personal information and called for the optimization of such data after seeing that it has been widely and improperly collected and used in the internet era.
By the end of last year, China had 989 million netizens, 4.43 million websites and 3.45 million apps, according to China Internet Network Information Center.
Before the latest law, the country has adopted the Cybersecurity Law and the E-commerce Law, and amended the Criminal Law and the Law on Protection of Consumer Rights and Interests.
Since this year, government agencies have also increased their inspections of app markets.