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Stricter Legislation Needed to Protect Online Privacy

China urgently needs legislation to protect online users from being abused by network operators, who put profit before personal privacy

By Han Bingbin Updated Oct.11

China urgently needs legislation to protect personal information from being abused by network operators, said Long Weiqiu, president of the law school at Beijing-based Beihang University, in an interview with Caixin.com, one of China’s leading business news portals.   

As a substantial source of financial profit for network operators, personal privacy is constantly at risk online. Network operators are thus given a special statutory duty to protect personal information, according to Long.

But the lack of specific legal regulations has allowed network operators to continue to abuse and profit from user information, he said. Internet users nowadays are easily induced to authorize the use of their information, the scholar noted in the interview, but the act of authorization itself is problematic.  

Long also attributes the online privacy crisis to inadequate management and supervision from the government. The protection of personal information falls not only into the category of private law, but also administrative regulations.   
While the contradiction between privacy protection and data mining has become increasingly prominent nowadays, Long said, the former should be always given priority.   

“Big data is an important resource for social and economic development, but the protection of personal information is an even more important precondition,” he was quoted as saying. “In many countries and regions, legislation on privacy protection usually comes before the making of regulations on data development.”  

Individuals are often at a disadvantage from Internet platforms in terms of information protection, Long said. Therefore, he added, legislation should be much stricter in this aspect and if necessary, it should forbid any kind of online authorization for the use of personal information.