[…] The new “Personal Information Protection Law of the People’s Republic of China” comes into effect on November 1st, 2021, and comprises eight chapters and 74 articles
The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) said, as translated from Mandarin using automated tools:
On the basis of relevant laws, the law further refines and perfects the principles and personal information processing rules to be followed in the protection of personal information, clarifies the boundaries of rights and obligations in personal information processing activities, and improves the work systems and mechanisms for personal information protection.
The document outlines standardized data-handling processes, defines rules on big data and large-scale operations, regulates those processing data, addresses data that flows across borders, and outlines legal enforcement of its provisions. It also clarifies that state agencies are not immune from these measures.
The CAC asserts that consenting to collection of data is at the core of China’s laws and the new legislation requires continual up-to-date fully informed advance consent of the individual. Parties gathering data cannot require excessive information nor refuse products or services if the individual disapproves. The individual whose data is collected can withdraw consent, and death doesn’t end the information collector’s responsibilities or the individual’s rights – it only passes down the right to control the data to the deceased subject’s family.
Information processors must also take “necessary measures to ensure the security of the personal information processed” and are required to set up compliance management systems and internal audits.
To collect sensitive data, like biometrics, religious beliefs, and medical, health and financial accounts, information needs to be necessary, for a specific purpose and protected. Prior to collection, there must be an impact assessment, and the individual should be informed of the collected data’s necessity and impact on personal rights.
Interestingly, the law seeks to prevent companies from using big data to prey on consumers – for example setting transaction prices – or mislead or defraud consumers based on individual characteristics or habits. Furthermore, large-scale network platforms must establish compliance systems, publicly self-report their efforts, and outsource data-protective measures.
And if data flows across borders, the data collectors must establish a specialized agency in China or appoint a representative to be responsible. Organizations are required to offer clarity on how data is protected and its security assessed.
Storing data overseas does not exempt a person or company from compliance to any of the Personal Information Protection Laws.
In the end, supervision and law enforcement falls to the Cyberspace Administration and relevant departments of the State Council.
It looks like China has had a good look at the EU Cybersecurity Act and enhanced on that. All this looks very good and of course even better that they mandate the Chinese governmental agencies to also follow this, but is it true? With all the governmental AI systems, cameras and facial recognition systems tracking ethnic minorities (such as the Uyghurs) and setting good behaviour scores, how will these be affected? Somehow I doubt they will dismantle the pervasive surveillance apparatus they have. So even if the laws sound excellent, the proof is in the pudding.