China Whys and Wherefores – Illegal Provision and Obtaining of Personal Information Under Chinese Law
(2014) 131 Privacy Laws & Business International Report 1-5
7 Pages Posted: 22 Dec 2014 Last revised: 8 Sep 2015
Date Written: October 15, 2014
In August 2014, Briton Peter Humphrey and his wife, naturalized American citizen Yu Yingzeng, were convicted by a Chinese court for violating the PRC Criminal Law’s prohibition on illegally obtaining the personal information of others, and given prison sentences. This article considers how China's Criminal Law personal information protection provision, Article 253(a), has been interpreted since its introduction in 2009, beginning with a brief account of the history of the Humphrey case, followed by an examination of Article 253(a) and its subsequent interpretation in the Humphrey and other cases.
The article considers issues such as the scope of Article 253(a) in relation to industries covered, in light of twenty reported cases involving illegal sale of personal data, and two cases of illegal 'obtainment', and what is a 'serious violation' (including the relevance of political factors). Examples from the large number of other cases based on the same article are given. Finally, the implications of the Humphrey case for foreign businesses in China are considered.
Keywords: China, PRC, data protection, privacy, Criminal Law, Article 253(a), Humphrey Case, illegal sale, personal information
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