In January 2021, China’s first case in application of provisions on personal information protection of the Civil Code was heard and ruled by Hangzhou Internet Court.
On Jan. 8, China’s first case in application of provisions on personal information protection of the Civil Code was heard and ruled. This case is concerned with a civil public interest litigation, tried by Hangzhou Internet Court.
China’s Civil Code was promulgated in May 2020 and came into effect on 1 Jan. 2021.
In this case, since February 2019, the defendant Sun has sold to Liu, the party other than involved in the case, more than 40,000 items of personal information, including individuals’ names, telephone numbers and e-mail addresses, which Sun bought and exchanged from the Internet. After obtaining the said information, Liu used such information for false promotion of foreign exchange business.
The prosecutor of public interest litigation believes that the defendant illegally purchases and sells personal information on the Internet without the permission of others, which exposes the information of many unspecified persons to long-term risks of being infringed. Therefore, the prosecutor initiates civil public interest litigation, and requested Sun to compensate for losses, make an apology and assume other civil liabilities in accordance with the law.
Hangzhou Internet Court applied the relevant provisions of the Civil Code in this case.
In accordance with the Civil Code, personal information includes individuals’ name, dates of birth, ID numbers, biometric information, addresses, telephone numbers, e-mail addresses, health information, whereabouts, etc. Any organization or individual that needs to obtain other people’s personal information shall obtain it in accordance with law, ensure information security, and not illegally collect, use, process or transmit other people’s personal information, or illegally trade, provide or disclose other people’s personal information.
In the first-instance judgment rendered by Hangzhou Internet Court, Sun was ordered to pay the damages for infringement of social and public interests in the amount of CNY 34,000, which was specially used for information safety protection or personal information protection and other public welfare matters.
Contributors: Yanru Chen 陈彦茹