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China Passes Personal Information Protection Law

The 30th Session of the Standing Committee of the 13th National People’s Congress voted to pass the Chinese Personal Information Protection Law, which shall come into force on 1 November 2021. Different from the previous Drafts for Comments, the officially promulgated Chinese Personal Information Protection Law stipulates for the first time that personal information processors can process personal information if such processing is necessary for the conclusion or performance of a contract to which the individual is a party or for conducting human resource administration under the rules and policies formulated in accordance with the law and a collective contract signed in accordance with the law. The said provision specifies the legal basis for an employer to process the personal information of employees. In addition, Chinese Personal Information Protection Law emphasizes that personal information shall be processed in a manner that has the minimum impact on the interests of individuals and collection of personal information shall be limited to the minimum scope necessary for achieving the processing purpose and not be excessive. Chinese Personal Information Protection Law also includes provisions on obligations of personal information processors, protection of sensitive personal information, conditions for cross-border transmission of personal information, etc.

Key Action Points for Human Resources and In-house Counsel 

The Chinese Civil Code, effective since 1 January 2021, already includes a separate section with provisions on the right of privacy and protection of personal information. The Chinese Personal Information Protection Law takes a step further and provides more detailed rules that will directly govern employers’ processing of employees’ personal information. Thus, employers in China are advised to check and update employment instruments and employment administration measures and procedures, where necessary, so as to ensure compliance with this new legislation.