Unlike Europe, China does not yet have any specific rules on the use of cookies. This recent case on the lawful use of cookies will prove useful as guidance for companies wishing to carry out targeted advertising through the use of cookies; although the case is not legally binding due to the lack of common law.

In the decision, the court decided that although a record of a users' internet activity and preferences, as might be recorded by a targeting cookie, does concern privacy, it does not constitute personal information.  This was on the basis that the user could not be identified from the information held.  In addition, the website provider had published an appropriate privacy policy which provided the opportunity to opt out.

What action could be taken to manage risks that may arise from this development?

Where companies make use of cookies in China they can now be confident that they can do so legally but should ensure that an adequate privacy policy is in place that is easily accessible for website users.