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Release time:2021-09-16Views:

In the era of big data, data is the most sought after resources. The Pilot Implementation Program of Shenzhen Chief Data Officer System was also rolled out recently. In an interview with Xinhua News Agency, Prof. Zhang Bohui, Executive Associate Dean of School of Management and Economics, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shenzhen, pointed out the significance of the pilot implementation of this system, and proposed some solutions such as those on  privacy security and data-enabled price discrimination against existing customers.

Zhang Bohui

Executive Associate Dean of School of Management and Economics, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shenzhen

Associate Dean of Shenzhen Institute of Data Economy

Director of Center for FinTech and Social Finance of Shenzhen Finance Institute

The roll-out of the Program will help build smart city and digital government

The first of the six main responsibilities of Shenzhen chief data officer is to “promote the construction of smart city and digital government”, which shows that the newly launched chief data officer system in Shenzhen is highly compatible with the construction of smart city and digital government, Prof. Zhang Bohui said.

According to the detailed rules of the implementation program, chief data officer can coordinate the municipal functional departments in Shenzhen and link the administrative districts in Shenzhen, so as to advance the infrastructure construction of smart city and digital government with higher standards and greater execution.

Data technology is of great significance

“Data Island” problem is expected to be solved

Prof. Zhang Bohui believes that big data plays an important role on a city or its government . First, data technology analysis can provide sound data support for the government's decision-making behavior. Second, data technology can help government improve the level of public services and work efficiency. Third, data technology can upgrade the government's social management toolkit. For example, communication big data technology has played a big part in the pandemic prevention and control.

According to Prof. Zhang Bohui, there are three reasons behind the “data island”. First, at present, there are no incentive measures or relevant legal system requirements for data sharing, and government departments lack the motivation to share data. Second, data sharing may bring potential risks to government departments. For example, inadequate desensitization of information and insecure transmission of information in the sharing process may lead to dereliction of the responsible personnel in government departments. Third, among different levels of government, there is no uniform technical standard or management framework in the process of collecting and managing data, and the progress of informatization development is also inconsistent, which objectively increases the difficulty of data sharing. In July this year, Shenzhen promulgated the Data Regulations of Shenzhen Special Economic Zone, which proposed to standardize the sharing, disclosure and utilization of public data. The chief data officer system just released also makes it clear that one of chief data officer's responsibilities is to improve the standardized management of data and establish a sound market-oriented work plan for data elements. It is believed that the problem of “data island” in Shenzhen will be effectively solved under the double guarantees of chief data officer system and data regulations.

Protect personal privacy, improve data right confirmation

How to balance and design the construction of data factor market and protect personal privacy proposed in the Data Regulations of Shenzhen Special Economic Zone is a worldwide problem. Prof. Zhang Bohui thinks that we can start from two aspects. First, we need to ensure that personal privacy is not infringed, which is also the bottom line that must be kept in building the data factor market. Recently, China has promulgated the National Information Security Law and the Personal Information Protection Law in succession, and the part of these two laws concerning personal privacy protection can be used as the design of data factor market development in special economic zones. The second point is to improve data right confirmation. At present, a large number of personal data are often held by commercial companies (platforms) in China. The root cause of this situation lies in the unclear ownership of data in the process of its production, collection, circulation and utilization. We also need to pay special attention to this problem in practice by identifying the data subject, clarifying the boundaries between data property rights and utilization rights, and establishing and improving the reward pricing and circulation allocation mechanism.

Anti-monopoly and inhibition of “big data-enabled price discrimination against existing customers”

Prof. Zhang Bohui commented that, big data-enabled price discrimination against existing customers actually requires two conditions merely: one is that the platform collects and analyzes customer behavior data, and the other is that the price sensitivity of loyal customers is at a low level. As long as these two conditions are met, the platform algorithm will always quote high prices to loyal customers. Because these two conditions are very easy to be met, the big data-enabled price discrimination against existing customers is very common in China at present. Prof. Zhang Bohui believes that one of the perspective for regulators to solve the problem of big data-enabled price discrimination is to effectively prevent market monopoly. If a certain platform applies big data-enabled price discrimination, and consumers have other substitutes at the same time, then they can change to others, and this platform will naturally be subject to the competitive pressure of the market and prevent the algorithm from executing big data-enabled price discrimination. If one platform is too large, or several platforms conspire, forming a real monopoly, then consumers will become victims of big data technology. At the same time, Prof. Zhang Bohui suggested that we should consider improving the Consumer Rights Protection Law to clarify which consumer data can be collected and which cannot. At present, accurate big data-enabled price discrimination by algorithms often needs to rely on the analysis of sensitive data of consumers. By protecting the rights and interests of consumer data, the situation that consumer behavior patterns are clearly captured by the platforms can be prevented from the source.

Under the wave of big data, the government can “do something” but cannot “overstep the boundary”

Prof. Zhang Bohui thinks that from the perspective of information infrastructure construction, the government can consider establishing a local integrated open platform for government data, and provide a demonstration for the open sharing of data in society, especially for business data. At the same time, relevant departments can also refer to the recently promulgated National Information Security Law and the Personal Information Protection Law to make local legislations on the applications of big data and personal privacy, and guide the construction of information infrastructure (hardware, software, platform, etc.) through laws, and restrain potential boundary overstepping behaviors. In practice, we can draw on advanced experiences of other regions. For example, in 2020, Guiyang promulgated and implemented the Regulations of Guizhou Provincial Government on Data Sharing and Opening, and under the guidance of the Regulations, the whole province was driven to establish a national, provincial, municipal and county-level integrated government data sharing service system.