China: Cyber Security Series – Personal Information Protection Of Financial institutions

Last Updated: 19 December 2018
Article by Harrison Jia
Most Popular Article in China, December 2018

Cyber security and data protection has been arising as issues that financial institutions of China must be confronting with, among which personal information shall be emphasized mostly. In April, 2018, Shanghai Police Bureau disclosed several crimes regarding infringing citizen's private information, one of which was that more than 10 million pieces of private information have been illegally disclosed and traded by two former employees and two current employees of an insurance company over less than six months, with illegal amount of over 20 million RMB (Chinese Yuan).1

On May 30, 2018, the former China Insurance Regulatory Commission, Jiangsu Bureau released "The Warning on Prevention of Disclosure Risk of Private Information of Insurance Customers", pointing out that recently crimes regarding infringing citizen's private information occurred in Jiangsu Province and local branches of life insurance companies and insurance agencies should give top priority on customers' private information protection, and take solid measures to prevent private information from leakage risks.

Financial institutions shall pay attention to legal issues regarding private information as set forth below:

1. Ascertain the scope of critical information infrastructures

Article 31 of the Cyber Security Act of China and the Regulation on Critical Information Infrastructure Security Protection (Draft for Comments) specifically indicate that finance sector is within the scope of critical information infrastructure. On June 2016, the Central Office of Cyber Security and informationization and Cyber Security Coordination Bureau released "The Operating Guideline on National Cyber Security Inspection", which explicitly enumerates banking operations, securities and futures trading, payment and clearing, insurance operations of the financial sector into the scope of critical information infrastructure.

After identifying critical operations, financial institutions may sort out, on a case-by-case basis, information systems or industrial control systems that support critical business operations or are related to critical business, forming a list of candidate critical information infrastructures, including website type, platform type and production business type. Each type shall be subject to different standards, and shall be protected as critical information infrastructure if it may result in: (1) the disclosure of private information by more than 1 million persons or; (2) the disclosure of sensitive information of a large number of institutions or enterprises, or; (3) other systems that may severely damage the social and economic order or endanger national security.

Subject to stricter national security reviews and assessments, the operator of critical information infrastructure would confront with stricter requirements of cybersecurity protection, including procurement of network products and services, the storage and transmission of private information and critical business data.

2. Strengthen Personal Data Protection

The Cyber Security Law of China defines "Private Information" as a variety of information recorded electronically or otherwise which could identify a natural person individually or in combination with other information, including, but not limited to, the name of the natural person, date of birth, identity document number, personal biometric information, home address, phone number, etc.

The People's Bank of China defines private information generated in the banking and financial industries in "The Notice of Banking Financial Institutions Regarding Private Financial Information Protection" as "personal financial data", including personal identifiable information, personal property information, personal account information, personal credit information, personal financial transaction information, derivative information, and other personal information obtained or stored in the course of establishing business relations with individuals.

Being released and executed by the Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine and Standardization Administration of the People's Republic of China on May 1, 2018, "The Standard of Private Information Security of Information Security Technology" ("The Private Information Security Standard") distinguishes private information from sensitive private information and other general information. Sensitive private information refers to private information that, once disclosed, illegally provided or misused, may endanger the safety of persons and property, and may further lead to damages of personal reputation, physical and psychological health or discriminatory treatment, including ID numbers, personal biometric information, bank account number, communication records and content, property information, credit information, tract information, accommodation information, health care information, transaction information, personal information of children under 14 years of age (including), etc.

When dealing with the protection of private information, financial institutions shall pay attention to important private sensitive information and give stricter protection, especially in regards of personal tract information, communication records and content, credit information, property information, accommodation information, health care information, transaction information, etc., failing to appropriately protect such sensitive information in these important categories may give rise to criminal liability.

The Judicial Interpretation on Several Issues Concerning the Application of Law in Criminal Cases of Infringement of Citizens' Personal Data (effective as of June 1, 2017) by the Supreme Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate indicates circumstances that constitute "aggravated circumstances" and violate Article 253 of Criminal Law of China as the "crime of infringement private information of citizens": (1) illegally obtain, sell or provide tract information, communication content, credit information, property information over 50 pieces, or; (2) illegally obtain, sell or provide accommodation information, communication records, health care information, transaction information that may affect the safety of persons or property more than 500 pieces, or; (3) illegally obtain, sell or provide other forms of citizen's private information over 5,000 pieces, or with illegal income more than RMB 5,000. When constituting a crime of financial institution, it shall impose a fine on the institution and punish the person in charge and other persons with direct responsibilities.

Strengthening the protection of private information shall follow the principles of legality, legitimacy and necessity in the process of collecting and using private information, including clearly indicating the purpose, manner and scope of the collection and use of information, and obtaining the consent of the individuals. In regards of sensitive private information, the express consent shall be obtained in accordance with the requirements of "The Private Information Security Standard".

Banking financial institutions shall improve data security technology preventive measures to ensure that personal financial data will not be disclosed during the collection, transmission, processing, preservation, usage and other processes, and shall not illegally sell or illegally provide personal data to others. The personal data of a citizen should not be provided to other persons without the consent of the individual, except where the processing does not identify a particular individual and cannot be recovered. Where banking financial institutions conduct their business through outsourcing, they should fully review and evaluate the ability of outsourced service suppliers to protect personal financial information and use it as an important indicator for the selection of outsourced service suppliers.

3. Strengthen the establishment of cyber security organs and the management of employees

To avoid disclosure and sale of customers' private information by their employees, financial institutions shall strengthen the management of employees.

The Cyber Security Law requires that operators of critical information infrastructures are responsible for: (1) setting up specific security management organs and security management leaders, as well as conducting security background checks on such managers and employees in key positions, and; (2) conducting regular network security education, technical training and skill assessment for employees.

The Private Information Security Standard requires the entities in charge of private information to provide that its legal representative or principal is the responsible person who has overall responsibility for the security of private information, including providing human, material and financial resources for private information security. Institutions that fulfill one of the following conditions shall establish full-time dedicated private information protection principals and agencies responsible for private information security work: (1) the main business involving personal information processing and having over 200 employees, or; (2) processing over 500,000 pieces of personal information, or within 12 months of the expected processing of over 500,000 pieces of personal information.

Furthermore, financial institutions shall, in the form of rules and regulations or employment contracts and agency contract terms, incorporate the protection of customers' private information into the assessment system of employees, and establish disciplinary mechanisms by means of commissions and compensation, downgrading and termination of employment contracts. Employees who violate restricted access, use customers' information, and divulge and trade customers' private information shall be dealt with seriously, and those suspected of constituting a crime shall be transferred to the judicial authorities in accordance with the law, and the relevant managers shall be held liable for their management responsibility.


1. "Insider of Insurance Company Sold Ten Millions of Personal Information of Customers Will Buying Insurance Lead to Leakage of Personal Information?", 2018-04-22,Source:

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Topics
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions