Living in the Era of Internet, many of us must have the experience as following: insurance salesman calls to sell auto insurance right after you buy a car; few days after you move into the new house, the sellers of house decoration and furniture keep calling you one after another; after booking a flight ticket, you receive a fraudulent text with your accurate personal information in the name of refund due to the cancellation of the flight, etc. We cannot help but ask, how did our personal information leak out?

Generally speaking,there are two kinds of channels, one is to hack into the relevant database and steal the personal information; the other is the internal personnel who are in possession of the data leak out our personal information. The common leaks are mainly public security organizations, traffic police, financial institutions, courier companies, telecom operators, Internet companies, etc.

The consequence of personal information disclosure is shocking in the era of Internet. According to the result of China Internet Association survey, the total economic losses caused by spam messages, fraud information and personal information leakage are estimated RMB 91.5 Billion, with 688 million Internet users affected. It has seriously disturbed the social order and citizens’ daily lives. Therefore, in 2016 and 2017, China has strengthened the legislation in the field of personal information protection and network security. In the aspect of Administrative Law, the “Internet Security Law” was formally implemented since June 1, 2017. The General Principles of Civil Law, which will be effective in October 2017, has clearly defined the personal information rights as a civil right of citizens for the first time. In respect of the Criminal Law, the Interpretations of the Supreme People’s Court and the Supreme People’s Procuratorate on Several Issues concerning the Application of Law in the Handling of Criminal Cases Involving Infringement of Citizens’ Personal Information on May 9th 2017(“The Interpretations”), in order to explain the laws and provisions related to personal information crime under the new situation.

The Laws and Provisions have requested more clear and strict personal information protection from the individuals or organizations which are in possession, stipulating the legal consequences and liabilities of illegal disclosure of information. Especially the introduction of The Interpretation will guide the judicial practice more accurately in application of legal conviction and sentencing, and punish the individuals or organizations who have committed to a crime by disclosing or obtaining of personal information illegally. It will also have a deterrent effect on other attempts to disclose or illegally obtain personal information.

However, we should also see that, even though the legislation on personal information protection has been gradually improved, in reality, unless there’s a loss caused by the leakage, otherwise people usually choose not to do anything, which makes it even more difficult for the Authorities to discover the illegal disclosure of information. Also even for those cases with property losses, the detection rate is very low. It is very rare for people to redeem the losses by civil litigation because it’s difficult for the party to determine who disclosed the personal information. In particular, the principle of proving, those who claim shall bear the burden of proof, has limited the practical result of the legal protection on personal information.

So while we are waiting for the more advanced improvement of relevant Laws and Provisions, we have to be careful with our personal information to avoid any leakage. The actions are proposed as followings:

  1. Do not discard courier waybills or take-away orders without removing your personal information.
  2. The train tickets and flight boarding pass/ flight tickets need to be handled properly after use.
  3. Protect your personal information on the network. Don’t install unknown software, do not participate internet activities such as getting gifts through registration of information,voting for someone in an event but with your personal information as a condition, etc. Shop carefully on the internet; change your passwords of online bank, WeChat and other payment apps on a regular basis. Do not open the web pages or emails with winning prizes without great caution.
  4. Where you have to leave your personal information, collect some evidence and records in case of any harassment or losses caused by the leakage of personal information.

For more information about personal information privacy protection, contact us at info@dandreapartners.com