Prosecutors pledge to protect personal data
Judicial officials take steps to safeguard online privacy
Chinese prosecutors vowed to enhance their supervisory role and join hands with other countries to safeguard personal information in the age of big data through the rule of law to effectively ensure data security and further improve internet development.
“Prosecuting authorities in China have strengthened their efforts to fight crimes resulting from privacy leaks, and we’re willing to increase international communication to jointly build an open, cooperative and safe cyberspace,” said Zhang Jun, procurator-general of the Supreme People’s Procuratorate.
He made the remarks on Thursday when sharing Chinese prosecutors’ experience in protecting personal information during a forum at the 5th World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, Zhejiang province.
The top procuratorate’s official statistics showed that more than 8,700 people were accused by prosecutors of the crime of harming people’s personal information from January 2016 to September.
This not only means that privacy leaks have become a hot problem in the internet era, but also brings new judicial challenges for prosecutors, he said.
Given that the problem is serious, Zhang said that Chinese judicial officials, including prosecutors, have taken a series of steps to protect people’s privacy, with powerful legislation and stricter law enforcement.
“To better solve it, we need a joint force, as cyberspace governance is a task for every walk of life, such as internet companies, technicians and netizens,” he said.
A team specialized in handling internet-related crimes has been set up by the top procuratorate, and some regional prosecuting authorities have also improved the quality of related prosecutions by inviting internet specialists to act as advisors, he said.
Jia Yu, chief prosecutor of the Zhejiang Provincial People’s Procuratorate, agreed, confirming that finding a balance between data development and personal information has been a big challenge for judicial authorities from home and abroad.
“It’s good to see our country boosts protection and gives heavier penalties to privacy offenders,” he said. “But we need a clearer distinction between sensitive, important and general personal information in the current laws, as different kinds of information require us to use different ways to safeguard and punish the wrongdoers.”
Wu Shenkuo, an associate law professor at Beijing Normal University, spoke highly of Chinese lawmakers’ increasing capacity to guarantee privacy in recent years.
“For instance, privacy protection and online platforms’ duties have been highlighted and clarified in the Cybersecurity Law and the E-Commerce Law.”
He said it is good that the nation’s top legislature has put forward a plan to make laws on personal information protection and data security on its agenda, adding that he believed that more clarified laws would contribute greatly to alleviating privacy leaks.
Prosecutors nationwide also need to fight crime caused by privacy leaks through bilateral or multilateral agreements with other countries, “as the use and development of big data is a global problem”, Jia said.
Zhuang Rongwen, minister of the Cyberspace Administration of China, said that international cooperation should be further developed, such as how to prevent online risks, effectively share information and fight crimes.
As cooperation is being promoted, “we should make better use of big data, especially exploring how to use it to improve people’s livelihoods, and expand security education and enhance people’s security awareness while surfing the internet”, he added.
Aleksandr Konyuk, prosecutor-general of the General Prosecutor’s Office of Belarus, revealed a survey from his nation to attendees at the forum, which stated that 42 percent of internet users in Belarus suffered online threats from January to September, and these attacks resulted in serious information leaks.
He applauded the fact that more countries were willing to solve the problem by increasing international cooperation.