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Personal Privacy and Information Security
 

Firstly, let us discuss the information security, whose scope is very extensive, including business secret, personal privacy, intelligence and so on.

Information is diversified. Confidential information is just one of kinds. It can be classified into four types according to different level: national confidential information, personal private information, business secret information and other protected information. Each country has corresponding laws and regulations to protect such kind of information. Except the above four-type, other information is all public. Therefore, some people may ask that whether they can abuse the information if it is obtained through legal ways. The answer is, maybe. If the information we get from legal ways has greatly negative impact on people involved, we are much more likely to bear the responsibility for infringing upon their civil right. So before we make use of the information the client provides to us, we have to make clear what kinds of information it is, the identity and the position of the client and other usable information’s role.

The information we use must be public and legal. Confidential information obtained from any means can not be legally used in any situation without the authorization by the information owner. In China, for example, private information is classified into three classes from the low to the high level, that is secret, confidential information and top-secret. Therein, secret information is protected by the common security measures, confidential information is be known by tiny minority of people who are involved and top secret information is only controlled by people at highest positions.

In China, the business investigators should cautiously deal with the protected information in the daily life. Because most of time, such information is not marked “unavailable” to general public. We can take the call list for an example. China has regulated its own laws to protect call list, namely, only citizens themselves can check and print their own call lists with their identity cards. Therefore, we have to be very careful when dealing with such information. However, what should we do in case we really need such information in a special situation? If you promise you won’t spread and magnify such information or cause disaster for using it, as well as you won’t bring damage to people involved, you can use it and you may also avoid the law punishment. But you should know a point that your action is illegal even though you escape from punishment by law enforcers this time.

Secondly, let us discuss personal privacy.

Everyone has secret in the heart that’s unwilling to be perceived by other one. The secret, including personal life, dairy, photo album, habit, private correspondence, bodily defects, etc., is legally called privacy. People have right to refuse to disclose their own secret and this right is called Right of Privacy. In China, releasing citizen’s private information to public will infringe upon people’s right of privacy. Take a recent case in Shanghai, China, for example, on August 5, 2010, Shanghai Pudong Court announced the first-instance judgment for a extraordinarily serious criminal case of illegally acquiring citizens’ personal information. There were ten defendants in that case and one of them even illegally acquired more than 30 million pieces of personal information. The criminals who took advantage of working at hiring company or Talents Company copied the internal clients’ information of the company and posted deceitful employment advertisings on cost-free hiring websites in order to attract job-seekers. As soon as receiving job-seekers’ resumes, they sold them at a cheat price of RMB 0.1 ($0.015) to RMB 0.5 ($0.07) per copy. After the case got exposed, a suspect surnamed Chen confessed that he had once consult a lawyer, who said his behavior can not be deemed guilty by any regulation, then he continued doing so without misgivings, and had not cared about relevant regulations since then until PRC Criminal Law Amendment Act 7 was launched. The first-instance judgment made by the court convicted the ten defendant of crime of illegal acquisition of personal information. This is a new accusation, applying to people illegally acquiring citizen’s personal information by stealing or other inappropriate ways whose circumstances are serious. For this crime, Article 7 of PRC Criminal Law Amendment Act 7 that has come into force gives definite regulation that “state organs or staff of departments engaged in finance, telecom, education, medical treatment, etc distributing or providing citizens’ personal information acquired from fulfilling obligations or offering services shall be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment of not more than three years or criminal detention and shall also be fined if the circumstance is serious”.

Consequently, we, as professional business investigators, must be very cautious of the protected information. We should make an analysis and research of the investigation result and get avoid of the original information but for a reference. Otherwise, as a Chinese famous old saying goes: a single slip may cause everlasting sorrow; when you go back, only to find it’s too late to correct it.

 

 

Author: Hai Yang
The President of Beijing Steele Business Investigation Center



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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