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MIIT Regulation Curbs Unfair Competition, Protects User Data

MIIT, 1/14/11

China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) has issued a review draft of "Provisional Regulations for Maintaining the Social Order of the Online Information Services Market."

According to Article 6 of the regulations, online information service providers are prohibited from engaging in the follow unfair competition acts:

1. Disseminating false information or malicious rumors about competitors' legal products or services that damages the reputation of the competitor or its products;

2. Offering products that are incompatible with competitors' products without reasonable grounds or authority;

3. Preventing competitors' products or services from operating on user devices, or tampering with the contents of competitors' products or services, or intercepting information from said products or services;

4. Misleading, deceiving, or compelling users to uninstall or shut down competitors' products or services.

Article 7 prohibits providers from conducting independent tests of competitors' products or services suspected of violating users' security or private data, requiring providers submit the suspected product or service to a third-party organization for evaluation.

Article 8 prohibits providers from infringing on user rights in the following ways:

1. Refusing, delaying or ceasing to provide services to any user unilaterally or without sufficient grounds;

2. Restricting users' ability to choose other providers' products or services;

3. Misleading users into selecting unfair service agreement clauses or premium services through false claims;

Article 9 further protects user rights by prohibiting providers from:

1. Installing, operating, upgrading, or uninstalling software on user devices without consent, or compelling or misleading users into using the provider's services;

2. Failing to include an uninstall option, or leaving executable code or other documents on the user devices after uninstallation;

3. Altering users' browser or other key configurations without consent or agreement, forcing the user to visit particular websites or preventing access to the Internet;

Article 11 requires pop-up ads or other windows to provide a clearly labeled "close" button, and prohibits opening an identical window after the user has closed the first window.

Article 12 prohibits online information service providers from collecting or storing users' personal data. If private data is required for identification or needed for the service to operate, then the user must be clearly informed as to the content and purposes for which the data will be used.

Article 13 states that providers are legally responsible for keeping users' personal data confidential and should increase system security accordingly. No organization or individual should have access to said data except for legal purposes.

Article 14 requires providers to guarantee the security of user data (including documents, images, music, videos, etc.) and guarantee users' rights to modify or delete said data at any time.

Telecommunications administration officials at the province, autonomous region, or municipality level are authorized to fine companies found in violation of Articles 6 or 7 between RMB 100,000 to RMB 1 mln, and in critical situations shut down or reorganize the provider. The same authorities are empowered to order providers that violate Articles 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, or 14 to compensate users and apologize; providers who refuse to do so will receive a warning and can be fined between RMB 10,000 and RMB 100,000. In serious cases, authorities may shut down or reorganize the offender.

Keywords: Internet security MIIT regulation

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