On December 28, 2012, China’s national legislature enacted a new law to further regulate the collection and use of online personal information and to require certain network service providers to implement real name registration for all users.
As described below, the new law may affect all businesses handling an individual’s “personal electronic information” in China, even if that information is not necessarily processed over the internet. For many companies operating websites hosted in China, the new law will require only slight modifications to existing data handling practices, as many of the new law’s provisions reflect or only slightly modify other provisions found in existing law. However, websites providing “internet publication services” such as blogs, microblogs, or online forum providers, will be required to implement a real name registration system for their users. The specifics of the real name registration system have not been announced and will likely come from China’s principal internet regulator, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (“MIIT”), which is drafting regulations in furtherance of the new law.