China is gearing up to tackle unlawful use of consumer data. Source: Shutterstock

China is gearing up to tackle unlawful use of consumer data. Source: Shutterstock

New Chinese regulations prove data privacy is no joke to the government

2020 is the year of data privacy. Across the globe, regulators are putting into effect policies that safeguard consumer data, ensuring that data is not being exploited in ways that are unbeknownst to users.

Recently, China’s Cyberspace Administration, Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, Ministry of Public Security, and State Administration for Market Regulation jointly published new rules to address the lack of standardization when it comes to the illegal collection and use of personal data by app developers.

Amongst the behaviors prohibited by these new rules include the absence of published service regulations, failure to clarify the purpose of data collection, and the collection of user information not related to the service provided.

According to Beijing-based King & Partners Senior Partner Liu Yuanxing, these rules further define where the line lies for service providers.

“It will help with the regulation of apps in China and help operators and distributors to self-regulate”.

China is no stranger when it comes to businesses acquiring and leveraging data, illegally. Recently, it just took offline 100 apps that were illegally collecting and using personal information.

Many banks, retailers, and weather forecasting apps were involved, who were found to have leaky privacy agreements that either misinformed users or failed to notify users of the risks of divulging personal data.

China’s Xinhua News reported that in 2018, more than 80 percent of internet users’ data was compromised, with more than a third of apps used prone to data safety risks.

Chinese regulators have been working hard to address data privacy issues.

Not long ago, a report by the China Consumer Association (CCA) noted that 91 percent of mobile apps were collecting excessive personal information such as user location, contact lists, and mobile numbers.

Acting on this, China warned of dire repercussions should businesses be found collecting excessive amounts of data for ‘research’ purposes.

The heightened urgency to address unauthorized data collection is recognized globally.

Last year, the European Union published its General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that gives users the right to access personal data stored by online services, and to limit the ways internet companies can use the information.

Soon, California’s Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) is set to come into full force.

Under the CCPA, companies must disclose to customers all the information that has been collected as well as data shared with third parties. Users also have the right to refuse to provide personal information.

With the five million apps used in China to date, its effort in protecting netizen’s personal information is impressive. Not being complacent is key in combating data privacy issues, and China knows this full well.

Aside from what was listed, it had also introduced laws such as the Personal Standardization Technical Committee to standardize the collection, storage, sharing and disclosure of personal information.

Most businesses in the ASEAN region have yet to catch up when it comes to respecting consumer data privacy. It is imperative that they do so, as consumer trust should never be taken for granted.