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Govts wrong to reveal residents' personal info on their websites

China Daily | Updated: 2017-11-20 07:59

ACCORDING TO REPORTS, the personal information of local residents, from their identification card numbers and mobile phone numbers to addresses, are revealed in a host of documents that can be viewed on various government websites across the country. Such personal information, including that of people receiving financial aid, has been disclosed online without their consent. Legal Daily commented on Saturday:

Governments at all levels are right to disclose their work online, so long as they are careful with what they choose to make public. Divulging the personal information of local residents without their consent risks damaging government credibility.

On the one hand, it is praiseworthy that more local governments publish how they spend public funds on their websites. On the other hand, disclosing citizens' information without informing them in advance goes against the intention of supervising the use of public power, not least when there are specific rules about it.

Some argue that disclosing certain citizens' identification card numbers avoids confusion since many of the listed have the same names. Even so, that still leaves crucial information available to any and all, which violates the code of conduct in terms of government work disclosure.

What leads to such poor implementation of placing government work in the sunshine, a move designed to encourage public supervision of civil servants, is the truth that many still have little idea about the legal consequences of any unauthorized disclosure of confidential information.

In other words, most of government-owned information and data can and should be made public as long as it does not involve national and commercial secrets or disrupt social governance. But when it comes to people's personal information, their authorization for disclosure must be obtained and the information displayed should be protected, by such means as concealing some digits of identification card numbers and phone numbers might help.

On their part, those in charge of running government websites need to follow due instructions about disclosing government affairs while ensuring malpractices are curbed and any persons found responsible are held accountable immediately.

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