China Set to Pass One of the World's Strictest Data-Privacy Laws
The world’s leading practitioner of state surveillance is set to usher in a far-reaching new privacy regime with a law that resembles Europe’s robust framework for online privacy protections—up to a point.

HONG KONG—The world’s leading practitioner of state surveillance is set to usher in a far-reaching new privacy regime.

China’s top legislative body is expected this week to pass a privacy law that resembles the world’s most robust framework for online privacy protections, Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation. But unlike European governments, which themselves face more public pressure over data collection, Beijing is expected to maintain broad access to data under the new Personal Information Protection Law.

The national privacy law, China’s first, is being reviewed as frustration grows within the government, and in Chinese society at large, over online fraud, data theft and data collection by Chinese technology giants. The law is on its third round of reviews, usually the last before passage.

The law will require any organization or individual handling Chinese citizens’ personal data to minimize data collection and to obtain prior consent, according to the latest published draft. It covers government agencies, though lawyers and policy analysts say enforcement is likely to be tighter on the private sector.

While privacy in Europe and the U.S. is generally understood to mean protection from both private companies and the government, in China the government has aligned itself with consumers to fight data theft and privacy infringement, says Kendra Schaefer, a partner at Beijing-based consulting firm Trivium China.

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