Third Session
10th National People's Congress and
Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference

Lawmaker Urges Legislation to Curb Rampant Privacy Infringement

A deputy to China's top legislature has proposed the earlier enactment of a law to protect the citizens' personal information, citing it is part of their privacy.

"I hope China will speed up the legislation to curb rampant privacy infringement," said Chen Shu, a deputy to the National People's Congress on Sunday.

The veteran lawyer based in Guangzhou, capital of south China's Guangdong Province, said the law should protect anything that relates to the privacy of a citizen, including their cell phone numbers, home addresses, medical history and even profession.

At the same time, She urged the public to be alert to privacy infringement, a relatively new term to many Chinese.

In a booming market economy, many people leave their personal data when filling out applications. But some data holders -- hospitals, realtors, telecom and Internet service providers -- sell the information to others who will later come up with unwelcome phone calls or visits.

New mothers in Beijing, for example, find they have to answer many unexpected calls shortly after they are home with the babies -- infant formula suppliers, baby haircutters and insurance agents have already got a long list of potential customers from the delivery room.

"Unauthorized use and sales of others' personal information often break the order of their normal life," said Yin Xiaohu, a professor with the Shanghai-based East China University of Political Science and Law.

A gang in Shanghai was recently found to have stolen other people's personal information, applied for credit cards in their names and made vicious overdraft amounting to 470,000 yuan (US$56,600), said Yin.

South China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region has already banned unauthorized publication or forwarding of the applicants' personal information by administrative permit authorities in a set of regulations that took effect on Feb. 1 this year.

(Xinhua News Agency March 6, 2005)

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