Amendments to China's Consumer Protection Law Add Compliance Obligations when Handling Personal Information
On October 25, 2013, the Standing Committee of China's National People's Congress passed an amendment to the 1993 Law of Protection of Consumer Rights and Interests, which addresses longstanding issues related to e-commerce fraud and illegal disclosures of consumers' personal information. The Amendment, which takes effect on March 15, 2014. The passage of the Amendment comes on the heels of a flurry of legislation aimed at strengthening the protection of personal information in China, including the Decision on Strengthening Protection of Online Information , the Provisions on the Protection of the Personal Information of Telecommunications, and the Internet Users and the Provisions on Registration of the True Identity Information of Phone Users . Collectively, the new legislation related to the protection of personal information has significantly advanced and clarified China's data protection regime. The Amendment applies to any company that provides goods or services to consumers within China. Unlike some of the recent privacy-related regulations and guidelines issued by the Chinese government, the Consumer Protection Law, as amended by the Amendment, sets forth more specific requirements related to the processing of personal information and applies broadly to all companies providing goods or services to consumers in China. Thus, it is important for companies operating in China to review their practices related to the collection, use, and disclosure of personal information in China and take the necessary steps to achieve compliance with the Amendment's privacy-related provisions by March 15, 2014.