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The Legal Protection over Personal Information in China 2015/11/4 12:16:04

I.          What Is Personal Information and What Is Individual Privacy

Generally speaking, “personal information” refers to all the information relevant to an individual, which, once saved on computers or networks, shall be known as “personal data”. On the other hand, “individual privacy” refers to the information that an individual is not willing to disclose or the information that if disclosed, will cause adverse influence to the individual.

The right that protects an individual’s privacy is known as the right to privacy. It is a right of personality that protects the peace of one’s personal life and the private information irrelevant to public interest from illegal harassment, acknowledgement, collection, utilization or publication. The concept of right to privacy was raised by United States attorneys Samuel D. Warren and Louis D. Brandeis (future United States Supreme Court Justice) in their paper entitled The Right to Privacy published in the fourth issue of the Harvard Law Review on December 15th1890. In his dissenting opinion in Olmstead v. United States (1928), Justice Brandeis wrote that a citizen enjoys the “right to be let alone”, which has later been recognized as the classical dissertation on the right to privacy. The case initiated wide discussion among the society in the United States at the time, and generated profound impact on the protection over individual’s privacy.

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