Top court works to advance personality rights

(China Daily) Updated : 2021-03-08

The top court is paying close attention to personality rights issues, especially personal information and privacy protection, and it will release new rules in accordance with the Civil Code, a Supreme People's Court official said recently.

Regarding personality rights as a separate part of the Civil Code is a major breakthrough and innovation in democratic legislation.

Several relevant research projects and case analyses have begun, said Justice Liu Guixiang, a member of the top court's adjudication committee.

"For example, we're examining problems in handling disputes about personal information protection and are preparing to draft judicial interpretations to help judges accurately implement the law," Liu told China Daily in an exclusive interview during the ongoing two sessions.

As laws' stipulations are sometimes too general to be implemented within China's legal system, the top court can issue judicial interpretations to define how laws or specific stipulations should be applied when judges handle cases.

In recent years, courts nationwide have accepted a rapidly increasing number of cases in which personal information has been leaked, stolen or even purchased since big data, artificial intelligence and other advanced technologies have been widely applied, according to the top court.

"I believe that figuring out how to balance privacy protection and public interest along with personal information use and protection requires urgent study, as information technology is progressing rapidly," Liu said.

The provision of more specifications and explanations of the Civil Code, which refines rules for regulating civil activities and protecting civil rights, is in response to people's emerging demand for and concerns about these rights, he added.

The Civil Code-the first law called a "code" since New China's founding in 1949-was adopted by the National People's Congress, the country's top legislature, on May 28 and took effect on Jan 1.

It consists of general provisions and six other sections on property, contracts, personality rights, inheritance, torts, and marriage and family.

In addition to personal information protection, Liu highlighted the "ban order"-a new addition to the code to stop certain behaviors that infringe on personality rights.

The order has appeared in some court cases since the code took effect.

A court in Chongqing, for instance, issued its first such order recently to a man surnamed Zou who often harassed, threatened and assaulted his former wife due to conflicts over the custody of their daughter and property distribution after they divorced in 2018.

The court said Zou's behavior caused physical and mental anguish to his former spouse and violated her personality rights. Because the woman would experience greater harm if his actions were not prohibited in a timely manner, the court issued a ban on Zou from harassing, threatening and assaulting her, in addition to following or physically touching her. If he failed to comply, he would be detained, fined or even held criminally liable.

Liu, from the Supreme People's Court, said the court is paying close attention to such cases.

"We will give detailed interpretations on the issue, such as clarifying situations in which courts can grant a ban order, to unify standards for trials," he said.