China’s new privacy law would require that before processing any sensitive information such as biometrics, location, medical and health details, individual consent must be obtained. This is expected to enforce more restrictions on how tech companies in China collect and use customer data. The new law is described as the Personal Information Protection Law (PIPL).
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PIPL defaulters to pay 50 million yuans
According to the Chinese government, the new PIPL became necessary as a result of the growing trend in online scams and individual service price discrimination. The new law prioritizes the obtaining of users’ consent by both state and private enterprises before such data can be used for whatever purpose. Consequently, all apps that do not meet the criteria stated in the new law have been suspended, and in some cases, terminated.
The new law is expected to drive the campaign against unpermitted profiling, which has so far resulted in a discriminatory pricing system. This was possible with systems that collect and monitor the transaction history and financial habits of clients and users, using such data to create irregular pricing for services.
The PIPL also prohibits foreign technology companies operating in China from transferring the data of Chinese nationals to countries where the data security standards are lower than that of China. This is to avoid the situation where such data gets leaked, leading to discrimination, which is a major concern in the promulgation of the new law. Failure to adhere to this new law will warrant a fine of 50 million yuans ($7.6 million) or 5% of the defaulting company’s annual turnover.
Prevention should be prioritized over correction
The Chinese government has been known to be ruthless at times when it comes to the enforcement of cyber laws. Companies and individuals will likely have huge concerns when the enforcement of the new laws come into play. Given China’s autocratic approach to governing, it is likely that the new laws will be implemented as intended. The new laws may also give the government a greater degree of control over Chinese enterprises as they can actively scour data to ensure that individual consent has been given. This gives even greater surveillance capabilities to an already heavily surveillance state.
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