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China Addresses Privacy in New Law

China's new Tort Liability Law, which comes into effect on July 1, is the country's first piece of legislation to affect personal data. This includes a right to privacy in the law's list of "civil rights and interests."

Specific measures include provisions that impose liability on Internet service providers (ISPs) for online infringements. Article 36 stipulates that ISPs that become aware of tortious acts being carried out on a website but fail to take corrective measures such as removing, blocking access to or deleting the links to such infringing contents, will be jointly and severally liable with the tortfeasor.

The law also affirms subscribers' rights to use telecommunications legally and protects the confidentiality of their communications.

In the health arena, the law requires medical facilities to maintain certain records and keep them private and confidential, giving a right of action against institutions and personnel that disclose private matters or records.

Otherwise, there are no other specific rights of action for mishandling personal information. Most likely, claimants will have to rely on the general provisions of Article 3, which permits persons whose rights have been infringed to seek redress under the statute.

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Julius Melnitzer

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