CHINA / SOCIETY
Encryption of personal information collected for COVID-19 prevention advised
Published: May 12, 2020 10:43 PM

Photo: Xinhua



Many places in China have taken measures to deal with personal information leakage as some individuals' information has been improperly acquired and experts warned that with the COVID-19 epidemic coming under control in China, personal information that has been collected for prevention work should have encryption to decrease the risk of information leakage. 

Reports of individuals' personal information being exposed or misused have appeared recently, which raised concerns over the security of personal information. For example, the public security authorities in Qiangdao (should that be Qingdao?), East China's Shandong Province, released a notice on April 19, saying that more than 6,000 residents' information, including their name, address, identity number and phone number had been exposed, the Xinhua Daily Telegraph reported. 

In the early stage of fighting against the coronavirus, some places required individuals to register their information with residential communities, online applications or pharmacies, which increased the risk of misuse or leakage of the information, experts said. 

Qin An, head of the Beijing-based Institute of China Cyberspace Strategy, told the Global Times that some places over-collected personal information after the outbreak of the coronavirus. The current issue is how to properly store and manage the information. 

"Two situations should be avoided - information leakage and continuous collecting of residents' information," Qin said. 

He noted that since China's cryptography law has been implemented, all personal information should be stored after encryption to avoid disclosure. 

The public security bureaus in many places in China have dealt with cases involving illegally collecting and disclosing personal information. On March 5, Chinese authorities, including the Ministry of Civil Affairs and the Cyberspace Administration of China, required residential communities to ask for residents' permission before collecting information for prevention work. 

Authorities in South China's Guangdong have started supervision of online applications and set requirements for data and privacy protection for organizations that offer applications for prevention, the Xinhua Daily Telegraph reported.
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