Massive database to combine personal information from multiple sources

08:38, May 03, 2011      

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A senior Chinese leader has proposed setting up a dynamic national population information database covering each of the country's citizens in order to enhance social administration.

Zhou Yongkang, secretary of the Central Political and Legislative Affairs Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), said the database will be based on each citizen's ID card number and include a wide range of personal information.

Zhou, also a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, made the proposal in a signed article in the Sunday issue of Qiushi, or "Seeking Truth", the biweekly official journal of the CPC Central Committee.

Zhou stressed that "more than a few" problems exist in current social management, which is becoming complicated and demanding.

"The issue of unbalanced, inharmonious and unsustainable development remains prominent, and development gaps as well as income gaps are expanding among regions and between urban and rural areas," he wrote.

Zhou said new requirements on social management are emerging as the social structure has experienced a fundamental change that raises public awareness of justice, democracy, rights, rule of law and supervision.

However, the service and population management system that was set up in the planned economy mainly manages a "unit" of household residents, rather than each individual.

"A dynamic management system that can cover all the existing population is urgently in need of establishment," he wrote.

Information on each ID card includes name, gender, ethnic group, date of birth, permanent address, ID number and a picture.

Zhou called for different departments other than police in setting up the database to include information such as family planning situation, housing, education and tax.

Zhu Lijia, a professor in public management at the Chinese Academy of Governance and a researcher on social management innovation, said running a computer-aided database for the country's 1.37 billion people is not a problem.

"The database system can be supportive for social management," he said. "But it is just a means of technology-based management."

"Real stability, security and harmony must be achieved through institutional reform, and social management innovation must be institutional innovation," Zhu said.

The professor also warned that new legal work must be in place to prevent the abuse of such a gigantic and ever-growing database.

Source:China Daily
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