On 16 July 2013, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology promulgated the “Telephone User Real Identity Information Registration Regulations” (People’s Republic of China, Ministry of Industry and Information Technology Decree No. 25). A journalist interviewed Ministry of Industry and Information Technology Politico-Legal Department Inspector Li Guobin, asking him to explain the “Regulations”.
Q: The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology recently promulgated the “Telephone User Real Identity Information Registration Regulations”, could I ask what the significance of publishing the “Regulations” is?
Li Guobin: In recent years, our country’s telecommunications sector has developed rapidly, by the end of 2013, the number of telephone users reached 1.39 billion nationwide. At the same time, use of telephones for which real identity information has not been registered to disseminate obscene electronic information, send junk SMS messages, distribute harmful information, conduct fraud, and other problems has become prominent, which influences the lawful rights and interests of users, upsets social order, and even threatens national security. In December 2012, the NPC published the “Decision concerning Strengthening Network Information Protection” (hereafter simply named “Decision”), which clarified the structures for real identity information registration of telephone users from a legal angle. Through formulating the “Regulations”, the scope, procedure, requirements, information protection and other structures for real user identity information registration have been clarified, which benefits the protection of the broad users’ lawful rights and interests, raising telecommunications service levels and restraining unlawful network information acts.
Q: Can you tell all of us something concerning the formulation process of the “Regulations”?
Li Guobin: On the basis of the NPCS Standing Committee “Decision” and the need to standardize telephone users’ real identity information registration activities, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has organized the launch of legislation work for the “Regulations”
On the basis of organizing and launching legislative research, going to relevant provinces and cities for investigation and research, and hearing opinions from relevant telecommunications enterprises and departments related to ministerial organs, in late January of this year, we researched and formed a draft for the “Regulations”. In the beginning of February, we sought written opinions from all provincial (autonomous regions, municipal) telecommunications management bureaus and basic telecommunications business operators in relation to the “Regulations”. In late February, we organized that a number of telecommunications management bureaus conducted research of regulatory structures related to the “Regulations”. In April, we have openly sought opinions from through the State Council Legal Affairs Office “Chinese Government Legal System Information Web” and our Ministry’s website. Through soliciting opinions, the opinions of all areas of societies have mainly concentrated around the areas of expanding the protection strength for registered information and expanding the punitive strength against acts violating the “regulations”. Concerning the formulation of the “Regulations” and the main content of the “Regulations”, no disagreements on the basis of principle exist among all sides. Afterwards, we have combed through, researched and analysed the opinions from all sides, and further perfected the relevant structures in the “Regulations”. On the basis of the above-mentioned work, we have formed the “Regulations (Draft)”.
On 28 June 2013, Our Ministry’s 2nd ministerial meeting deliberated and passed the “Regulations”, which were promulgated on 16 July. The “Regulations” will take effect on 1 September.
Q: Can you tell us something about the main content of the “Regulations”?
Li Guobin: The “Regulations” contain 21 Articles, which mainly provide for the following content:
(1) The meaning of telephone user real identity information registration. The “Regulations” are based on the provisions of the NPC Standing Committee “Decision”, and defines telephone user identity information registration as: activities of truthfully registering real identity information provided by users, at the time where telecommunications business operators conduct connection formalities for fixed telephones, mobile telephones (including wireless network cards, similar hereafter), etc., conclude a contract or confirm provision of service with the user.
(2) Supervision and management responsibilities. The “Regulations” integrate the provisions of the “Telecommunications Regulations of the People’s Republic of China”, and clarifies that the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and all provincial (regional, municipal) telecommunications management bureaus conduct supervision and management over telephone user real identity registration work. At the same time, the “Regulations” clearly require that telecommunications management organs implement supervision and inspection of the real user identity information registration and protection situation at telecommunications business operators.
(3) Structures for real user identity information registration. The “Regulations” provide for the following structures for real user identity information registration in the areas of registration subjects, registration duties, registration scope, document categories, document inspection, information storage, self-inspection and training, etc.: telecommunications business operators shall, when handling connection formalities for users, require users to produce valid credentials and provide real identity information, users shall cooperate; telecommunications business operators shall inspect the credentials produced by users, and truthfully register the document category as well as the name, number and residential address indicated on the certification; information and materials related to identity shall be preserved for two years after the termination of service provision to users; where users refuse to provide identity information, telecommunications business operators may not handle connection formalities for them; telecommunications business operators shall conduct self-inspection of the information registration and protection situation at least once every year, and conduct training for their work personnel. Furthermore, the “Regulations” learn from provisions on real-name systems for individual savings accounts, etc., and make corresponding provisions on differentiating valid document categories of individuals and work units.
(4) Real user identity information protection structures. The “Regulations” persist in equally stressing users’ real identity information registration and protection, they clearly require that telecommunications business operators shall protect the real identity information provided by users, and shall strictly keep real user identity information secret; when leaks, harm or loss of users’ real identity information occurs, supplementary measures shall be admitted immediately.
(5) Management structures for agents. On the basis of the principle of “who operates, is responsible, who entrusts, is responsible”, and on the basis of the rules on entrustment and agency in civil law, the “Regulations” clearly provide that telecommunications business operators are responsible for the management of personal data protection work by their agents. The “Regulations” provide that: telecommunications business operators shall conduct supervision and management over the agent’s user real identity information registration and protection work, and may not entrust agents who do not conform to the requirements of registration and protection of user real identity information to conduct relevant formalities.
(6) Reporting structures. In order to guarantee that telecommunications business operators timely discover and deal with acts gravely infringing users’ real identity information and protect the lawful rights and interests of users, the “Regulations” provide that: where leak, damage or loss of telephone users’ real identity information occurs or may occur, Telecommunications business operators shall immediately adopt remedial measures; where it creates or may create grave consequences, they shall immediately report it to telecommunications management organs; before making a handling decision on the basis of these Regulations, require the telecommunications business operator to provisionally cease the relevant activity, telecommunications business operators shall implement this.
At the same time, on the basis of the “Administrative Punishment Law”, the “Telecommunications Regulations of the People’s Republic of China”, the “Regulations” respectively establish corresponding legal liability for unlawful acts by telecommunications business operators, users and telecommunications management organs’ work personnel.
Q: As for users, extreme attention is paid to the issue of security of identity information that they provide, could I ask which measures the “Regulations” adopt in the area of user identity information protection?
Li Guobin: Protecting the security of real identity information provided by users is the issue that we pay foremost attention to, we have always paid high regard to the issue of user identity information protection. To this end, the “Regulations” require telecommunications business operators to strengthen protection of real identity information provided by users, they require telecommunications business operators to keep real user identity information strictly secret”, they must immediately adopt remedial measures when real user identity information is leaked, harmed or lost, and corresponding legal liability is provided. In order to expand the protection strength for real user identity information, at the same time as establishing corresponding protection system through the “Regulations”, we have also specially drafted the “Telecommunications and Internet Personal User Data Protection Regulations” (People’s Republic of China, Ministry of Industry and Information Technology Decree No. 24), the above regulations contain special provisions for the issue of protection of the personal data of telecommunications and Internet users. Relevant provisions among those also apply to the protection of the real identity information of telephone users.
Q: When users conduct real identity information registration according to the “Regulations”, can this influence their regular use of telephone services?
L Guobin: According to the “Regulations”, users only need to produce valid credentials to telecommunications business operators, provide real identity information and cooperate with telecommunications business operators in doing information registration work well when handling telephone connection formalities. Telecommunications business operators shall notify users through telephone, text message or public announcements and adopt convenient measures to conduct supplementary registration formalities for telephone users who did not provide real identity information before the “Regulations” take effect or whose information is incomplete. At the same time, telecommunications business operators handling supplementary registration formalities for users may also not increase the responsibilities of users without authorization. Users’ real identity information registration also does not influence users’ regular use of telephone services, it is hoped that the broad users understand and cooperate with telecommunications business operators in doing this work well.
Q: How do you believe that all sides will implement all structures in the “Regulations”?
Li Guobin: The “Regulations” are rules formulated on the basis of the NPC Standing Committee “Decision” and the “Telecommunications Regulations of the People’s Republic of China”. ON the basis of the provisions of the “Legislation Law of the People’s Republic of China”, all structures in the “Regulations” have legal binding power, all relevant subjects shall strictly abide by all the structures in the “Regulations”. Telephone user real identity registration work involves basic telecommunications enterprises, telephone users and telecommunications management organs. Basic telecommunications enterprises shall implement the provisions of the NPC Standing Committee “Decision”, and launch telephone user real identity information registration work according to the registration processes and requirements provided in the “Regulations”. When launching registration work, basic telecommunications enterprises must both strictly abide by the provisions of laws and regulations, and must also vigorously adopt measures to make it convenient for users to conduct real identity information registration. Telephone users are telecommunications service users, and should fully understand and vigorously cooperate with this work. Telecommunications management organs are the management organs for the telecommunications sector, and shall carry out supervision responsibilities according to the law, strengthen guidance over real user identity information registration work and supervision and inspection over real user identity information protection, and promote the smooth conduct of real user identity information registration work.