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China: New Chinese 'privacy right' introduced as Google …-unfiltered search engine reddit

14 January 2010
China: New Chinese 'privacy right' introduced
as Google threatens to shut
A standing committee of the Chinese Parliament - the National
People's Congress - passed, on 26 December 2009, a new Tort
Liability Law that lists the 'right to privacy' among protected
'civil rights and interests' for violations of which citizens are now
empowered to sue. The new law, which comes into force on 1 July
2010, regulates tort liability across a wide range of issues,
including compensation for harm caused by defective products -
a provision which, according to Chinese agency Xinhua News,
was introduced in response to dairy company Sanlu Group
contaminating its milk powder with melanine in 2008.
Article 36 of the Tort Liability Law establishes the right of an aggrieved subject to sue an Internet
Service Provider (ISP) that uses the internet to infringe upon the civil rights and interests of another
person, or that is aware that users are using the ISP network to commit a tort but fails to take measures
such as deletion or disconnection.
The new law also requires medical institutions to keep patients' records private and confidential, and
recognises the right of subjects to proceed against medical institutions that disclose their medical data
without consent.
The law more generally extends protection to such rights as a 'right to privacy', and rights to health,
name, honour, reputation and portrait, and gives citizens the ability to sue in tort for violations of these
rights. 'The primary significance of the Tort Liability Law is that it establishes private rights of actions
for personal data mishandling', Manuel Maisog, Partner at Hunton and Williams' Beijing offices, wrote
in a brief report. 'Previously, this could be construed as a violation of a fairly vague right to privacy
arising under the PRC Constitution...This new law, by making it expressly clear that private citizens
have a right to sue tortfeasors for damages, makes private suits for data breaches possible across the
country, and may require data users to take into account the possibility of such private suits when
planning their strategies and activities.'
Maisog however added that there is 'no further elaboration on precisely what this right to privacy
consists of' in the new law.
Two weeks after the Tort Liability Law was passed, search giant Google announced its 'new approach
to China', after discovering that a number of Gmail accounts belonging to human rights activists in
China, the US and Europe had been hacked. 'These accounts have not been accessed through any
security breach at Google, but most likely via phishing scams or malware placed on the users'
computers', read a blog post by Google's Senior Vice President, David Drummond. 'We have decided
we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on Google.cn', continues Drummond. 'We
will be discussing with the Chinese Government the basis on which we could operate an unfiltered
search engine within the law, if at all. We recognize this may well mean having to shut down
?2009 DataGuidance.com - Cecile Park Publishing Ltd.

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