On July 22-23, 2013, the APEC E-Commerce Business Alliance and the China International Electronic Commerce Center, a subsidiary organization of the Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China, held a seminar in Beijing entitled Workshop on the Online Data Privacy Protection in APEC Region. In addition to delegates from Mainland China, representatives from numerous other jurisdictions were in attendance, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Malaysia, Vietnam, South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Although many of the presentations focused on detailing current data privacy frameworks and recent privacy-related developments in APEC member states, the APEC Cross-Border Privacy Rules system was another key area of focus. An official from the U.S. Department of Commerce gave an important presentation on the system, and although the UK is neither located in Asia, nor does it have any Pacific Ocean coastline, the UK Information Commissioner’s Office also participated. The ICO official’s presentation discussed the current EU Data Protection Directive 95/46/EC and its proposed amendments, as well as the binding corporate rules framework that similarly allows for data transfers across jurisdictions.

Overall, the content of the workshop suggested that two of China’s Ministries (the Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology), both of which sent speakers to participate, are devoting resources to analyzing issues concerning both China’s domestic rulemaking on data privacy and related international considerations.

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology previously made recommendations to strengthen privacy regulations in China. For example, in April 2013, the Ministry issued a new privacy rule relating to mobile devices.

We will provide additional updates on recent privacy developments in China in the near future.