In January, China’s State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC) released its ‘Measures on Penalties for Infringing Upon the Rights and Interests of Consumers’ (Measures) which are due to take effect March 15, 2015.
These Measures flesh out China’s Consumer Rights Protection Law (CRPL) which was amended in March 2014 and provides guidance as to how companies may collect, use and protect personal information of consumers.
The Measures helpfully defines “consumer personal information”, which the amendments to the CRPL had failed to do, as “information collected by an enterprise operator during the sale of products or provision of services, that can, singly or in combination with other information, identify a consumer.”
Examples of consumer personal information provide additional clarity, such as information which refers to a consumer’s name, gender, occupation, birth date, identification card number, residential address, contact information, income and financial status, health status, and consumer status. This definition is a welcome addition in the midst of China’s patchwork of privacy rules and regulations.
Violations of the Measures may result in significant penalties. The Measures state that the SAIC and its local Administrations of Industry and Commerce may impose a fine of up to RMB 500,000 if there are no illegal earnings. In the event that there are illegal earnings, however, they may issues fines of up to 10 times the amount of the illegal earnings and confiscate all illegal earnings.
It is hoped that these new Measures (in combination with the CRPL) will help to repair consumer trust in Chinese companies, and protect the improper use, disclosure and sale of consumers’ personal information in the country.