May 26, 2020 03:43 AM

Pandemic Data Collection Fuels Concerns on Protecting Personal Privacy

What’s New: China should tighten oversight of privacy breaches while speeding up legislation to protect personal data following the massive collection of information to assist in disease control, delegates to the annual legislative and political advisory sessions said.

Regulators should issue detailed rules on how personal information should be stored and disposed of by organizations that collected it during the pandemic for contact tracking or health assessments, they said.

In particular, regulations should govern the use of biological information technology such as facial or fingerprint recognition, delegates said. Rampant collection of such data fueled concerns about violations of privacy, they said.

Why it matters: News of privacy breaches emerged during the Covid-19 pandemic, fueling concerns about information security.

Personal data such as identification, contacts and travel history were widely collected by government-backed organizations and tech platforms for disease control. As the domestic outbreak wanes, how the massive amounts of personal data should be dealt with remains a question.

Although regulators issued multiple guidelines during the pandemic to govern access to and use of personal information, there is still a lack of clear rules and enforcement on how the information should be stored or whether it should be destroyed after the pandemic, one delegate said.

China has more than 200 laws and regulations including articles on privacy protection, without an overarching law. In 2019 the national legislature made the drafting of personal information protection and data security laws the top priority of its legislation agenda. The National People’s Congress said Wednesday that the work on new laws will start this year.

Quick Takes are condensed versions of China-related stories for fast news you can use. To read the full story in Chinese, click here.

Contact reporter Han Wei ( and editor Bob Simison (

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