China’s new Cybersecurity Law focuses on protection of personal information and regulation of the virtual world
A well-known Beijing academic has gone viral after a female passenger on a city subway accused him of sexual harassment.
The incident, which took place in late May, saw 65-year-old Zhong Jun (not his real name) deny the woman’s accusations in a subway train in Beijing and, after she insisted, he slapped her. Zhong was sentenced to five days detention for slapping the woman, which was later suspended because of his poor health condition.
But for Zhong, the worst was yet to come. Someone posted his personal information, including his cellphone number, workplace, email address and photos on social media and his nightmare began.
Days after his personal information was leaked, he received thousands of calls and 500-600 texts daily for weeks.
“Till now, I cannot use my cellphone. Many people called, e-mailed, tweeted and texted to curse at me,” said Zhong in early June.
“Even if I did something wrong, the police and the court should deal with me, not the netizens. But now I am under attack of Internet violence,” Zhong said, adding that his life was in disarray.
Zhong’s experience is not unique in China and through renrou sousuo, or “human flesh search,” many people’s personal information can be found on the Internet. But after June 1, those who want to spread other people’s information online should think again before doing so.
The Cybersecurity Law of China, which was adopted in November last year and came into effect on June 1, is widely considered as the basic law regulating China’s cyberspace, stressing on the protection of personal information. According to the judicial interpretation of the law by the Supreme People’s Court and the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, which also became effective on the same day, those who provide other people’s personal information, such as their identities, photos, names and personal details to the public at large without gaining their consent, could be jailed for up to three years depending on the seriousness of the circumstances.
“The law will play a positive role in protecting the personal information of the public, since it not only clarifies the responsibilities of Internet service providers and operators, but also promises heavy penalties for trading personal information.”
information during their online operations.
“Thanks to the rapid development of information technologies such as big data, the Internet Plus and the mobile Internet, China is in the leading position in terms of the utilization of Internet-based applications, such as mobile payment,” said Ni Guangnan, Academician of Chinese Academy of Engineering. “While bringing more convenience to people’s lives, these applications also collect users’ personal information when being used, which pose threats to people’s information security.”
This problem was further highlighted after Xu Yuyu, an 18-year-old high school graduate in Linyi City of east China’s Shandong Province, was cheated of all her university tuition money and later died of a heart attack last August. The police found that her information, together with many other high school graduates nationwide, was hacked from the online university-entrance examination information system of Shandong Province.
According to a report on the transparency of users’ personal information protection policies of 1,000 major websites and mobile applications recently issued by China University of Political Science and Law, more than half of them are rated “low” level, including 157 websites and applications that do not provide privacy policies. This means their users’ personal information is under great risk of being leaked.
While enjoying the convenience brought by the rapid development of Internet information, people are also facing increasing challenges in their personal information security. “That’s why China needs the law regulated in this sector,” said Ni.