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New regulations to enhance protection of consumers' information

By Xu Wei  (China Daily)

08:51, January 30, 2013

Credit reference agencies must seek consumers' consent before collecting their personal information and providing bad credit information about them, according to a new regulation made public on Tuesday.

The regulation, approved at an executive meeting of the State Council on Saturday, also stated that agencies cannot collect personal income information about individuals concerning their savings or real estate without letting the consumers know about possible consequences or attaining their authorization in written forms.

Personal information such as religion, fingerprints or medical history may not be collected. Credit reference agencies can only keep customers' poor credit information for five years, and must delete the information thereafter.

The regulation is China's first on the credit rating industry and will take effect on March 15.

It comes at a time when the central government and top legislature have stepped up efforts to protect personal information. China's top legislature approved rules to enhance the protection of personal information online and allowed individuals to take action against network information that discloses their identities or infringes upon their rights.

The regulation states that agencies collecting personal information through illegal means or without authorization from consumers or selling the information illegally will be fined 50,000 to 500,000 yuan ($8,000 to $80,000). The individuals held responsible will be fined 10,000 to 100,000 yuan.

Beijing News reported that previously, financial institutions such as banks were fined 30,000 yuan for collecting personal information illegally.

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