A recent decision by a Shanghai court sheds new light onto a vague provision of the PRC Criminal Law and highlights the challenges faced by foreign companies overseeing local operations in China.

On September 28, 2012, Dun & Bradstreet’s local operating subsidiary Shanghai Roadway D&B Marketing Services Co., Ltd. (“Roadway”) was charged by the Shanghai public prosecutor with “illegally obtaining private information from Chinese citizens.”  As reported by the Chinese press, the private information included the personal data of 150 million Chinese citizens, including their income, job titles, and addresses.

On January 9, 2013, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Shanghai Zhabei District Court found Roadway guilty of illegally purchasing the personal information of private citizens and fined the company RMB $1 million (US $160,648).  Four employees involved in the illegal purchase were also sentenced to up to two years in jail and each fined between RMB $5,000 to RMB $10,000 (US $800 to $1600).Continue Reading Dun & Bradstreet Reportedly Fined RMB $1 Million for Illegally Obtaining Personal Information in China; Four Employees Imprisoned

A California law that took effect on January 1, 2011 makes it a crime to impersonate someone online.  Any person who knowingly and without consent impersonates another actual person through electronic means for purposes of harming, intimidating, threatening, or defrauding another person is guilty of a misdemeanor.  “Electronic means” is defined to include opening an e-mail account or social networking profile in another person’s name.  A violation of the law occurs only if the impersonation is credible, meaning that another person would reasonably believe that the defendant was the person impersonated.Continue Reading California’s Online Impersonation Law Comes Into Effect