China’s CNKI fined over illicit data collection

China’s top academic database, China National Knowledge Infrastructure, slapped with the maximum penalty for unlawful data collection under China’s Personal Information Protection Law.

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China’s Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) has concluded a yearlong probe into CNKI, China National Knowledge Infrastructure, imposing a substantial fine of $6.8 million. The investigation revealed CNKI’s illegal collection of users’ personal data through 14 mobile apps, including CNKI and CNKI Reading. These apps failed to disclose their data collection methods transparently and were sluggish in deleting user accounts when requested.

The CAC’s fine on CNKI represents the maximum penalty allowable under China’s Personal Information Protection Law. The database holds a vast trove of personal and sensitive data related to crucial sectors like national defence, telecommunications, and transportation.

The CAC initiated a cybersecurity review of CNKI in June 2022 to safeguard national security, part of a system introduced in 2020 to scrutinize major companies.

This substantial fine sends a strong message regarding data privacy enforcement in China and underscores the government’s commitment to protecting personal information and national security in the digital age.