New MIIT rules on curbing internet service abuses

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The Several Provisions on Regulating the Order of the Internet Information Service Market issued by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) came into force on 15 March 2012. The provisions require internet information service providers to curb illegal or inappropriate business practices and activities that have been widely reported in the Chinese media, and to better protect online users’ personal data. In practice, internet information service providers are likely to be considered website operators that either hold a commercial internet content provider (ICP) licence or have filed as a non-commercial ICP. Therefore, all operators of websites within China will need to comply with the provisions.

The provisions’ key features are:

  • promoting fair competition in the internet information services sector by prohibiting activities that violate other service providers’ legitimate rights and interests, such as maliciously disturbing their services or making up or spreading false rumours about them;
  • prohibiting service providers from harming internet end users’ rights and interests by, for example, refusing to provide services or delaying providing them without a good reason, restricting the use of other service providers’ services or products, or fraudulent or misleading advertising;
  • requiring service providers to give users clear and complete information on services offered and obtaining a user’s consent before downloading, installing, running, updating or uninstalling software on the user’s terminal.
  • better protection of the security of personal data collected or processed on the internet.

Service providers:

  • must obtain users’ prior consent when collecting their personal data;
  • must disclose what information will be collected, and how and why it will be collected and processed;
  • may not collect any information not needed to conduct their services, or which “can be used alone or in combination with other information to identify the user”;
  • must keep user information secure and not provide it to third parties without users’ consent.

new-miit-rules-on-curbing-internet-service-abusesSanctions for violations include warnings, fines of up to RMB30,000 (US$4,750), and public disclosure of the violation.

Li Guobin, an official with the MIIT’s legal department, commented that in recent years the internet information service industry has seen an endless stream of illegal behaviour that has seriously harmed the market and the rights of other market players and end-users.

The provisions are expected to provide a clearer code of conduct for internet service providers, and create a better market order and environment in the digital world of the internet.

Business Law Digest is compiled with the assistance of Baker & McKenzie. Readers should not act on this information without seeking professional legal advice. Readers can contact Zhang Danian at Baker & McKenzie in Shanghai at danian.zhang@bakermckenzie.com