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Name Card Website Raises Online Privacy Concerns

Go to the website Mingpian, literally "name card" in Chinese, type in a name and click "search." You will probably find the cell-phone number or email address of the person whose name you typed appear on the screen.

"Input one person's information and you can read two online name cards on the website" is how it works. Though Mingpian says it's trying to make communication easier for business people, law experts say the website violates people's right to privacy. Our reporter Zhou Jing has the story.

Reporter: Log onto Mingpian.com., names of management staff of those leading famous domestic and international enterprises appear at the most eye-catching place of its main page.

And Microsoft China tops the enterprise list, with information about over 2 thousand staff members compiled by the website. I randomly pick several name cards and dial the telephone numbers provided.

Some information is correct while others' is mixed up. But none of this information is provided by the name card bearers themselves. So where does it come from?

Actually members of the website have to input one person's information to view two online name cards. And, to read more, members have to upload more information about other people. Han Zhiyong from Mingpian.com talks about the intention of establishing the website.

"We have to provide a platform for our members, the business people, through which zero-distance contact can be achieved at a low cost."

Their target users are headhunters, sales people and other business people. And just months after beginning operation, the website has already collected over 2 million e-namecards. Those whose information has been put online have different reactions.

"I don't really mind as long as they don't use my information in a harmful way."

"I think it's very improper to publicize others' personal information. Name cards are exchanged between partners and friends. I won't give my name cards to strangers. When the website puts my information online, they are violating my right to privacy." Qiu Baochang a famous lawyer in the capital gives his opinion on the website.

"Without letting the other party know, the website has publicized his or her name card online for the use of others. It's suspect of violating others' right to privacy and the right to enjoy peace and rest."

The website has promised anyone who doesn't want to publicize their name card online can ask the website to take it down. But, when someone finds their information is being exposed publicly, it's very likely they have already been bothered by enough strange phone calls.

Then, who should be responsible for the loss they've already suffered?
(CRI.com August 23, 2006)

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