EU Data Sharing to China Under the Privacy Scanner

A group of European Members of Parliament (MEPs) have sought formal questioning of European Union data sharing mechanisms with China.

Three members of the European People’s Party, Axel Voss, Monika Hohlmeier, Kinga Gál and Michal Boni have formally approached the European Commission, seeking the latter to explain how data transfers of EU citizen’ information are adhering to the EU bloc requirements on privacy and data protection.

The politicians also sought to understand the alternatives that the EU ought to explore, they said, to ensure safe processing and transfer of private data of EU citizens inside the People’s Republic.

In a statement, the MEPs stated:

Personal data flows between the E Uand China have become a pressing reality in practice within contemporary cloud computing environments.

They further noted that China was already home to “vast data centres” at the International Offshore Cloud Computing Zone in Chongqing, as well as the Shanghai Free Trade Zone.

Some of the questions put forth by the MEPs, as reported by Ars Technica, include:

Has the commission opened discussions on exactly what [this development] means for EU citizens’ personal information?

Has the commission monitored the consequences for EU businesses of the proposed Chinese rules relating to the so-called ‘big data dam’ and the potential restrictions on the free flow of data across borders?

The hearing where the European Commission was due to provide answers was originally scheduled on Wednesday last week, but was postponed due to other pressing matters. The hearing will now be rescheduled at a later time.

China was deemed to contain inadequate personal data protection laws, as determined during a visit by members of the Euro Parliament’s civil liberties committee. The MEPs further stated that China hadn’t enforced or enacted “any legislation that specifically addresses the collection, storage, transmission, and handling of personal information. Nor has it yet entered into any agreement with the EU related to data transfers.”

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