Legal experts and industry insiders have urged the introduction of a specific law on the protection of children's personal data or at least identification of the issue in a special chapter in the draft law on the protection of personal information.
The Cyberspace Administration of China unveiled a draft regulation to strengthen the protection of children's personal information and prevent cases of illegal disclosure earlier this year.
The draft regulation, published to allow public feedback in June, stated that network operators must first inform children's guardians in a clear manner and obtain their consent before collecting and using their personal information. In addition, they should clarify the purpose, scope, method and duration of collecting, storing, using, transferring and disclosing children's personal information in accordance with legal rules and reasonable justifications.
According to the Report on Chinese Minors' Internet Use 2018 released by authorities, the population of juvenile internet users reached 169 million in China and the internet availability rate among them was 93.7 percent last year.
The report noted that more efforts need to be done to better protect children during their internet usage since they have been plagued with online trolls, Internet-based crimes and harmful information.
It added that 15.6 percent of them have experienced verbal attacks, bullying or unwanted privacy disclosures while using the internet.
During a recent interview with the Legal Daily, Sun Hongyan, Director of the Youth and Children Research Institute affiliated to the China Youth and Children Research Center in Beijing, said that children have become a generation of so-called "digital natives" because of their high exposure to and frequent usage of the internet from childhood.
Sun added that many juveniles, especially children, were deeply worried about safety issues and potential leak of personal information when using the internet.
Sun and her team found through research that many minors had no idea about how to protect personal data and would unconsciously disclose their information to others even if they had relevant awareness.
Any information leak would pose a threat to the intrusion of children's rights and interests and exercise negative effects upon their mental health and the formation of fine personal values, Sun warned.
Sun concluded her interview by saying that the draft regulation would make the protection of children's personal information more precise since it addressed the many risks in daily life on this topic.
Meanwhile, Zhu Wei, Deputy Director of the Research Center of Media Law with the China University of Political Science and Law, introduced that it was very necessary to formulate the draft regulation on the protection of children's personal information in the internet era because it was conducive to stepping up efforts to protect their rights and interests.
Zhu also proposed that the draft law should set up a special chapter on the protection of children's personal data in a bid to make relevant measures more targeted and applicable in actual life.
As for Zhang Xuemei, Vice Director of Beijing Zhicheng Law Firm and a researcher at the Beijing Children's Legal Aid and Research Center, the protection of children's personal information should maximize their interests and utilize more precise, applicable and manageable measures to realize the target.
Therefore, both Zhu and Zhang agreed that payment apps like Alipay and WeChat Pay, along with other network operators, should assume their corporate responsibilities in the protection of personal information since they have accumulated lots of personal data.
In addition to demanding that network operators make special rules and user's agreements concerning the protection of children's personal information, Zhang said that the draft regulation should also require them to set up management institutions and files on the protection of minors' personal data to fulfill their duty to keep children's personal information confidential.
According to Yang Heqing, Deputy Director of the Office for Economic Law under the National People's Congress Standing Committee's Legislative Affairs Commission, the NPC Standing Committee has listed a personal information protection law in this session's legislation planning, which was being studied and drafted.
Zhu emphasized that the legislative departments should define the role of children's guardians and responsibilities of network operators in protecting children's personal information when drafting such a law.
He went on to say that the collection and use of children's personal information should strictly follow legal regulations and should not be used for commercial or other illegal purposes.
For her part, Zhang pointed that the legislative departments should ban network operators from collecting, storing, using, transferring and disclosing children's personal information if they were found to go against the principle of maximizing their interests and social conventions, even though they might have received permission from the minors' guardians.
(Source: Legal Daily/Translated and edited by Women of China)