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Support for innovation put on courts' agenda

By CAO YIN | China Daily | Updated: 2022-01-19 09:10

Chinese courts have been told to provide strong legal support for new technological industries and focus more on handling cases involving information security this year.

The Supreme People's Court, China's top court, issued the requirement over the weekend, saying they are major tasks for courts nationwide to promote the country's innovation-driven development and ensure healthy growth of the digital economy.

Calling for courts at all levels to give strong protection to new fields related to major science and technology bottlenecks, including those related to big data, artificial intelligence and genetics, the top court also highlighted the significance of improving rules protecting these areas and optimizing the legal environment for technological innovation.

Every court should improve the handling of cases involving data transactions and unfair competition in the data market, it said, ordering them to build a protection system for data property and privacy to maintain healthy economic growth of internet platforms.

Qin Pengbo, a judge assistant from Beijing's Haidian District People's Court, said it is essential to increase studies on new types of disputes involving technologies, "because court rulings with a clear answer on what they can and cannot do will help new technical industries develop in a more orderly way".

Facial recognition technology, for example, has been widely used in many areas in recent years, "but abusing it and excessive or disorderly use of it has also triggered public concerns and brought about disputes related to privacy protection", he said.

"Facial information can be collected, but it cannot be forced to be provided," Qin said. "The purpose of the data use and whether the facial-scanning technology is properly applied is a key consideration when making rulings."

A principle of handling such cases is to seek a balance between the protection of people's legitimate rights and technological development, he added.

In one dispute, a resident took an enterprise to Qin's court, claiming its camera-based entrance control system infringed on people's privacy and demanding its quick removal.

"We were prudent in handling this case, as we didn't want our ruling to influence the enterprise's technological innovation by urging it to demolish the entrance system blindly," he said. "Our aim was to create a sound business environment for such a company while protecting privacy."

The court ordered the enterprise to strengthen privacy protection by formulating a guideline to help regulate the application of the technology, he added.

Chinese courts have also been told to pay high attention to the handling of cases involving people's livelihoods, including those related to environmental protection, education and healthcare, and with an emphasis on greater support for children and elderly people, the top court said.

Efforts to cultivate and educate talent in dealing with disputes involving external affairs should also be intensified to serve the country's high-quality opening-up and development, it said.


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