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A push to protect personal data
Global Times | July 18, 2012 01:55
By Du Liya
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The State Council is pushing government departments, banks and e-commerce companies to better protect people's personal information, with the release of suggestions on enhancing the security of the data they collect.  

In guidelines released Tuesday the State Council suggested it will help fund new security technologies that promote digital signatures that could replace simple client-selected passwords.

The development of enhanced security technology will focus on pilot industries, including software outsourcing services, information technology services and e-commerce.

The guidelines also provide direction to banks and financial institutions, saying the government will give financial support to the development and upgrading of security technologies that focus on spreading the use of digital signatures.

"The guidelines provide working directions to departments and related e-commerce companies," said Sun Peilin, an analysis with the Internet service company, Analysys International.

At the end of 2011, many users of dangdang.com, a popular online book retailer, claimed that their personal information was leaked.

Users of 360buy.com, another online retailer, also complained details of their personal life were leaked to third parties.

Banks and e-commerce companies are supposed to use people's passwords to protect their information. But passwords are not always the most effective way to protect one's privacy, Sun noted.

"Many users set the same password for different on-line accounts, leaving security loopholes." Sun said.

"Digital signatures can provide a higher standard of protection for users."

"Since plenty of money has to be put into upgrading security systems of e-commerce companies and the promotion of digital signature technology, I think that national financial support is necessary," added Sun.

"Regulations and laws on personal information protection are urgently needed, as leaking personal information has seriously affected the security of all citizens," said Lü Benfu, vice dean of the Graduate School of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and an expert in information security.

"The first step is to define what kind of release of personal information is illegal."

The seventh Amendment to the Criminal Law regulated that "whoever illegally obtains the aforesaid information by stealing or any other means shall, if the circumstances are serious, be punished."

However, no specific definition of the leakage of personal information is stipulated.


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