hina’s netizen population was 892 million as of December 2018, according to the most recent data, an increase of 3.8 compared with 2017. The rapid growth in online activity has given rise to issues such as inadequate protection of personal information.
Chat, ride-hailing and dining apps have enabled companies to hoard huge amounts of personal data. This does not bode well for society, Chen Zhimin, a member of the national committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC, China’s top political advisory), told The Beijing News.
Inadequate lawmaking is to blame, Chen said. While China already has laws regarding personal data protection, they are disparate and do not clearly define data ownership.
Chen argued that personal data is a crucial asset in the digital economy, comparing it to land during the agricultural revolution and capital in the industrial revolution. But data is not legally regarded the same as property, Chen said, adding that laws have yet to recognize and define its ownership, use and management.
“If it has clear ownership, taking and using my data without my permission will legally amount to theft; stealing my data will be equal to stealing my assets; leaking my personal data will count as a violation of privacy,” Chen said.