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China cracks down on biometric data collection by apps with new consent requirement

China cracks down on biometric data collection by apps with new consent requirement

Apps in China will be required to receive explicit consent from users to collect their biometric data starting on October 1, 2020, Abacus News reports. The Chinese government’s App Governance Group updated the Personal Information Security Specification, which Abacus describes as “China’s answer to GDPR,” to put the new rules in place.

Both users and the government have criticized app-makers for collecting more data than necessary, according to the report, and China levied punishments against many of them last year.

The new rules require apps provide a pop-up window, prompt, or other mechanism to ask for user permission, as well as provide information about the purpose, method and scope of collection, and more.

Developers are recommended to store biometric information separately from personally identifiable information, and the guidance also clarifies acceptable conditions on data handling and access by third parties.

The update makes three amendments to the Specification. The first increases restrictions on the use of user portraits, personalized displays, and “convergence of personal information collected based on different business purposes,” per a Google translation, as well as third-party access. The second relates to consent and account cancelation, and the third is meant “to refine and improve the requirements of personal biometric information.”

Biometric data collection and use practices in China were found to be the worst for data privacy in the world in a study by Comparitech last year. Concerns among citizens came to a head when a professor sued a wildlife park for requiring him to submit to facial biometrics collection for entry.

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