Finally, it seems that the first light of dawn in a quieter world has been shown to people who have been continuously bombarded by anonymous messages or phone calls via mobile and other communication channels for private tutoring, apartment sales, and insurance.
On the 25th of August 2008, the 4th Conference of the Standing Committee of the 11th National People’s Congress (NPC) deliberated on The 7th Amendment to the PRC Criminal Law (draft). The Draft is the first time a proposal for providing protection of personal information by imposing criminal charges for violations on such information was put forward. This has raised broad public attention at all levels.
Li Yongmei, associate, Domestic Dispute Resolution
The current legal protections for personal information appear loosely in various laws including the Constitution and other Civil and Criminal Laws. The protections are presented in the forms of certain individual articles in the varying pieces of legislation. These provisions mainly protect a citizen’s right to communications freedom, communications security and privacy in general and do not cover basic personal information such as personal address, phone numbers, etc.
Furthermore, the current applications of these articles are limited. Take for example the “crime of infringing upon a citizen’s right to freedom of correspondence” provided for in the Criminal Law, Article 252, which provides not only the true intent of the law (the right to freedom of correspondence), the target of crime (the letters) but also requires “the circumstance is serious” as the standard of conviction. It is not easy for these provisions to be adapted to the developments of the information age as writing physical letters has declined.
In deliberating the Draft, a strong message that the constitutional principle of “respect for and insuring Human Rights” will also be embodied in the field of personal information protection, and such protection will mark an important step for respecting personal liberty and dignity.
Even more exciting is that the legislative process for the Personal Information Protection Law, started in 2005, is now entering a new phase. The Personal Information Protection Law (Draft) has been submitted to the State Council for discussion. We are now looking forward to success during the deliberation as well as the release of the Personal Information protection Law in the near future. This will help create a comprehensive system for the protection of personal information and provide effective legal safeguards to right of privacy.