Still Waiting On That Data Privacy Law

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Yes, I have been calling for some legislation in this area for several years now, and no, there have been no new developments from the government. That being said, whenever I see this sort of thing, I feel compelled to repeat myself:

Zhejiang province plans legislation against spreading, revising or deleting other people’s information on the Internet, ynxxb.com reported Friday.

The proposed Zhejiang Informationization Promotion Bill that aims to ban malicious human flesh search needs to be discussed and passed by the National People’s Congress before it becomes effective.

A human flesh search is effectively the same as what is known in the West as “crowd sourcing”: Thousands of individual netizens piece together every detail of a person’s life and then publish them online.

Similar rules in East China’s Jiangsu province in 2009 had aroused a dispute over civil rights. Some Internet users said they use human flesh searches to keep tabs on government officials and this kind of law can block the transparency for public interest, according to ynxxb.com.

Needless to say, I have no idea what this rule is going to look like or how it will be implemented. It could be a giant mess or it could be used to police some of the more egregious instances of online mob activity (“mob” as in large number of people, as opposed to organized crime).

I should also point out that this rule is not a data privacy rule per se, just a regulation that overlaps traditional data privacy in the area of personal/individual data. Whenever we get a real law in China that is comparable to, for example, the EU directive, it will cover a lot more ground substantively than what Zhejiang is trying to do here.