On August 8, 2013, the State Council of the People’s Republic of China released its “Opinions Regarding Facilitating Information Consumption and Boosting Domestic Demand” (Guofa [2013] No. 32, the “Opinions”). The Opinions provide guidelines for encouraging the development of the “consumption of information” in the next few years. “Consumption of information” is a recently-coined Chinese term that encompasses the demand for, and possession, processing and reproduction of, information.

The Opinions are intended to implement certain general requirements set forth in last December’s Decision of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress on Strengthening the Protection of Information on the Internet, by (1) actively promoting the promulgation of laws on network information, security and personal information protection; (2) clarifying Internet service providers’ obligations regarding the protection of personal information; (3) formulating personal information protection standards; and (4) urging that service providers be regulated with regard to the collection, storage and use of personal information.

The Opinions contain fairly brief, general suggestions for the protection of personal information. Although the Opinions are more of a policy statement and are not legally binding (like the earlier draft amendment to the Law on the Protection of Consumer Rights and Interests), they may be significant in light of the fact that they were issued by the State Council. The State Council is the Chinese government’s equivalent of an executive branch; it includes China’s Premier and nine other very high-ranking members of the government who, in practice, also are high-ranking members of the Communist Party of China. The Opinions indicate that this key government authority remains aware of the need to enhance the protection of personal information, and also may suggest that legislative and regulatory activities for the protection of personal information are forthcoming.

Read additional coverage of China’s efforts to strengthen the protection of personal information.