China’s use of privacy law to punish dissent raises questions for privacy advocates

China seems to have found a reliable legal tool for suppressing dissent.  A prominent Chinese human rights lawyer, Pu Zhiqiang, has been arrested after a meeting in a private home to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the killings at Tiananmen Square.  The charge?  “Illegal access to the personal information of citizens,”  a crime punishable by three years in prison.

Clearly, China is on its way to earning a second Privy nomination for “Worst Use of Privacy Law to Protect Power and Privilege.”

But where are EFF and EPIC and CDT and the ACLU?  This is not the first time China has brought privacy charges against politically disfavored defendants.  Why haven’t these advocates of more privacy law vocally condemned China’s use of privacy law to foster oppression?

The same question might be asked of the Article 29 Working Party in the European Union, along with a second one: How is China’s privacy law different from the data protection laws that Europe has been urging the world to adopt?

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Ivan Perkins (guest-blogging) · June 16, 2014