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Revised Civil Code to Better Protect Personal Information

A revised draft of the general rules of the civil code, which was submitted to the top legislature for a second reading, stipulates for the first time that citizens' personal information should be protected by law.

Any organization or individual shall not be involved in illegally collecting, using, processing and transmitting personal information, according to the draft submitted to a bimonthly session of the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee.

No one shall illegally provide, disclose or sell personal information, it added.

Leakage of personal information is rampant in China. Although there are such crimes as infringing on citizens' personal information in criminal law, there are no clauses protecting personal information in the existing General Principles of the Civil Law, which came into force in 1987.

Wang Yi, a law professor with Renmin University, said the revised draft established general rules for protecting personal information, which will offer references for enacting a specialized law or adding more details in the future.

Based on provisions of the new draft, civil law, criminal law and other regulations will work to protect personal information in different respects, Wang added.

According to the revisions, laws regarding legal guardianship will also be made clearer. Where a legal guardianship is revoked, a new guardianship will be designated in accordance with the law and under a principle that favors the minors involved.

"It is key to make temporary guardianship measures, as it takes time to designate a new guardian to those who need guardianship," Wang said.

According to the first draft in June, guardianship can be reinstated if guardians showed repentance, but the new draft clarifies that only parents of minors are able to apply for the reinstatement of guardianship, and that the will of the children is respected.

"It requires judges to more properly exercise their discretion with the principle of benefiting the minors," Wang said.

The revised draft also bans shareholders of entities from abusing other shareholders' limited liability to evade debts and thus damage the interests of the entity's creditors.

This is the equivalent of "piercing the corporate veil" in the general rules of the civil code, said Meng Qiang, an associate professor of Beijing Institute of Technology.

If such abuses are proved by evidence, courts can hold the accused liable for the debts, Meng said, adding the stipulation could prevent shareholders from abusing their rights.

(Xinhua News Agency November 1, 2016)

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