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Cover Stories Series 2013> Web Trap> Video
UPDATED: December 30, 2012
China Passes Online Data Privacy Rules

The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) has passed the decision to enhance online personal data protection and safeguard public interest. Internet users will have to use real names to identify themselves to service providers when signing web access agreements.

Lawmakers have approved a landmark decision to regulate cyberspace. The decision on strengthening online information protection has the same legal effect as a law. Top legislator Wu Bangguo explains the reason for the move.

Wu said, "The decision aims to ensure internet information security, safeguard the lawful rights and intersts of citizens, legal entities or other organizations and safeguard national security and social public interest."

The 12-article decision includes an identity management policy. Internet users will have to use their real names to identify themselves to service providers and telecom operators.

Service providers are required to instantly stop the transmission of illegal information once it is spotted. They must take down the information and save records and report to supervisory authorities.

Some lawmakers say the key is implementation.

Suo Lisheng, member of the NPC Standing Committee, said, "The internet is a double-edged sword. The decision helps better regulate the internet, but we should put implementation as the priority as it requires efforts from all sides..."

To tackle surging public complaints regarding spam messages, the decision bans all organizations and individuals from sending commercial digital information to fixed-line phones, mobile phones or personal email addresses without consent.

Violators can face penalties, including the confiscation of illegal gains, license revocations and website closures. They could also be banned from conducting web-related business in the future.

The decision also encourages the public to report violations to supervisory departments.

In an age of information technology, it is necessary to have laws that regulate the cyberspace. The decision gives legal interpretations on law application and punishment measures. But to strike a balance between the freedom of speech and the protection of personal information, it requires the cooperation from both on-line uses and the operators.

(CNTV.cn, December 28, 2012)

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