How does big data affect the balance of power between customers and businesses, and are laws able to prevent leaks and data theft? These questions were among the many being discussed when experts gathered at an Internet Law and Public Policy Conference in Beijing on Saturday. CCTV America’s Zhang Nini reports.
Big data has become a major new economic asset, driving growth and innovation. Its full potential has yet to be fully unlocked, but security concerns are ever-present.
“In the age of big data, personal information is being used in ways that we never thought of before, making its protection ever more important,” said Professor Zhang Ping from the Law School of Peking University.
Professor Zhang Ping spoke of an urgency which is absent from Chinese laws. Zhang said current regulations are not up to the task, and she wants national legislators to accelerate the introduction of a law to protect personal information.
Media law expert Monroe Price from Oxford University said the laws should be updated and public awareness raised.
“Having a law freezes things is like answering yesterday’s questions today. So the law needs to process changes. Another issue is literacy of how to get people to understand the issue and use it to their benefit,” Price said.
The Chinese internet giant Tencent is a major provider of big data services. One of its executives said international cooperation is important.
“At the business level, it’s very connected. The issues are similar,” Brent Irvin, the general counsel of Tencent, said.
Experts said the lack of a privacy framework doesn’t just affect online business. It could become the next technical barrier for companies seeking international cooperation. They hope debates like this will help to raise general awareness and prompt society to tackle with the issue.