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China considering new law to protect biometrics and other personal data


Legislators in China are drafting a new data privacy law to protect personal information, and biometric data in particular, The South China Morning Post reports.

The use of biometric data has grown exponentially in certain areas, according to the report, with fingerprints or facial recognition used for retail or loan payments and social security qualification.

“China’s private data protection law will be released and implemented soon, because of the fast development of technology, and the huge demand in society,” University of Electronic Science and Technology of China Associate Professor Zeng Liaoyuan told the SCMP.

National People’s Congress spokesman Zhang Yesui said a new personal data protection law is a priority, but did not provide an expected timeframe.

“This is a big problem in China,” according to Beijing Normal University Law Professor Liu Deliang. “Because it’s about regulating the government’s abuse of power, so it’s not only a law issue but a constitutional issue.” How to enforce laws in cases of government misuse is a challenge, Liu admits.

Legal experts in the country noted the particular importance of protecting biometric data, and Beijing lawmaker Yi Tong filed a proposal for biometric legislation last month to the National People’s Congress, which would clarify the boundaries between government and private rights, and strengthen oversight of businesses.

Beijing Normal University Associate Law Professor Wu Shenkuo suggested the country should set criteria for the collection, use, and processing of biometric data, restrict government data collection, establish standards for compensation when data is misused, and specify what regulatory agencies would deal with companies.

China is accused of operating a repressive surveillance network of massive proportions in Xinjiang Province, and biometrics providers in China have taken advantage of the country’s relatively lax data protection laws to rapidly apply new technology.

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