Caixin
Aug 25, 2017 07:24 PM
BUSINESS & TECH

Government Completes First Inspections on Online Privacy Policies

The central government's inspections of 10 online service providers ended Thursday, and the results will be announced in late September. Above, a cellphone user checks her WeChat messages in August 2016 in Xiangyang, Hubei province. Photo: IC
The central government's inspections of 10 online service providers ended Thursday, and the results will be announced in late September. Above, a cellphone user checks her WeChat messages in August 2016 in Xiangyang, Hubei province. Photo: IC

The central government has inspected the privacy policies of 10 Chinese online service providers, months after a new cybersecurity law took effect, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

The inspections, which ended Thursday, are the first step toward evaluating how online services deal with their users’ personal information under the new law. The results of this first round of inspections will be announced in late September.

Authorities looked over the privacy policies of some of the biggest Internet names in China, including online shopping platform Taobao, Baidu Maps and the ride-hailing company Didi Chuxing.

The government’s first privacy policy evaluation will be carried out by a special panel of experts put together by China’s Cyberspace Administration, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the Ministry of Public Security, and the Standardization Administration, Xinhua reported.

Millions of internet users in China have agreed to online services’ privacy policies. Each of the many food delivery, ride-hailing and mobile-payment apps that have become crucial to everyday life in Chinese cities has its own policy.

Police had put the new cybersecurity law to the test when they arrested individuals on suspicion of selling user data. But the inspection is the first to target big companies and organizations to see how they deal with user information.

Lately, the government has stepped up its regulation of personal information collection by companies in the booming e-commerce and internet finance industries.

China’s first Cybersecurity Law, which took effect on June 1, includes prohibitions on the sale of certain goods online, as well as a rule against storing personal information collected in China on servers overseas.

Before the law, information collection was subject only to a nonbinding 2013 guideline issued by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. The rule asked companies to obtain user consent before collecting sensitive personal data.

Experts who reviewed the 10 services’ privacy policies told Xinhua that they not only considered their content, but also how the services displayed their policies and asked for consent.

Contact reporter Teng Jing Xuan (jingxuanteng@caixin.com)

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