Legal experts are calling for new legislation to enhance privacy protections as soon as possible to better deal with spam and unsolicited text messages as well as identity fraud.
Although telecom and technology companies are prohibited from sending unsolicited advertisements to customers, "there is no rule clarifying what punishments the enterprises will face if they break the rule," said Li Ya, a lawyer with Beijing Zhongwen Law Firm.
"There are no punishments and no deterrents," he said.
Apple Inc recently said it is exploring ways to reduce spam, including using advanced technology to identify unsolicited messages and rolling out more tools to block unwanted downloads. It has been working to reduce spam for some time, according to the China News Service.
Li welcomed the move, but he said the more crucial and urgent issue is to pay attention to privacy leaks, and solve it by legislation.
"We've made legal efforts on privacy protection in recent years, such as providing heavier punishments for those stealing others' information and highlighting protections in our civil laws, but this has not been totally effective," he said.
"The articles dealing with privacy protection are scattered throughout 14 laws and regulations instead of being concentrated within one," he said. "Each of them is only loosely related, let alone powerful enough to combat problem.
"According to existing regulations, judicial authorities and technology companies as well as government authorities are doing their own job without communicating with each other. So it is unclear who should play the leading role and what responsibilities each party will take when a privacy leak occurs," he said.
China has been carrying out periodic campaigns to address the problem.
For example, Beijing police detained 138 people suspected of selling, illegally providing and obtaining citizens' personal information during a crackdown in May.
"I don't think occasional crackdowns are an effective way of eradicating the problem," said Yan Chuan, a colleague of Li who handles privacy infringement disputes. Yan added that privacy-related legislation should be put on the agenda as quickly as possible.
"Many companies can block or remove users' unwanted information on their platforms by advanced technology, but they don't do that because of the current weak rules," Yan added.
Zhu Wei, an associate professor at China University of Political Science and Law, also supports new legislation.
"We need a unified law to figure out which party's interest should be more protected or which should take more responsibility if personal data is found to be stolen," he said.
"We also need a new law to be a 'bridge' between scattered articles, guiding law enforcement departments to do their work efficiently and accurately."