China issues rules on social credit system amid public concerns

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A man looks at his mobile phone while standing on a balcony overlooking the central business district in Beijing, China December 15, 2020. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

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BEIJING, Dec 24 (Reuters) - China has issued guidelines on developing its social credit system, which is aimed at promoting trust in companies and individuals, amid public concerns over data management and invasion of privacy.

The country has been developing a complex social credit system using data and other information to help assess the trustworthiness of individuals, companies and government entities, to help deter commercial fraud, tax and debt evasions.

But the programme has led to public concern over intrusive data collection, data protection and invasion of privacy due to the country's weak regulations and law enforcement.

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The cabinet issued guidelines on Thursday saying the government will promote high-quality development of its social credit system and build a long-term mechanism to deter dishonest behaviours to help create a "fair and honest market environment".

According to the guidelines, data and information on any dishonest behaviour among firms or individuals and related punishments will be handled according to law, the guidelines said.

In the guidelines, the cabinet said China will learn from global experience in building its credit system and follow international standards, treading cautiously in areas where there are significant public concerns.

Under the guidelines, China will seek to improve data collection, sharing among government departments, and the disclosure of public credit information will not infringe on business secrets and personal privacy.

China will focus on supervising financial institutions, credit rating agencies, internet firms and data enterprises to strictly regulate their collection, storage, use, processing and disclosure of personal information.

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Reporting by Kevin Yao; Editing by Hugh Lawson

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