Monday, April 05, 2010

Personal data protection bill passed quietly

The Personal Data Protection Bill 2009 was passed by the Dewan Rakyat today without any 'fireworks' as had been expected.

Debate on it lasted less than three hours and was mainly focused on several issues, specifically credit reference agencies, in particular Credit Tip Off Sdn Bhd (CTOS), time frame of data protection and the factor of implementation of the act.
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Prior to this, there had been calls for the introduction of such an act following controversies over the role of CTOS in relation to people's creditworthiness.

Information Communication and Culture Minister Dr Rais Yatim (right), when winding up debate on the bill, said the Personal Data Protection Commissioner who would be appointed to enforce the act would be responsible for monitoring the activities of all credit reference agencies.

The act also seeks to prevent abuse of personal data of citizens for commercial purposes. Offenders are liable to be jailed a maximum of two years or fined RM200,000 or both, if convicted.

Unauthorised use

On the time frame personal data obtained could be kept, Rais said this would be determined at the implementation stage whereby several key regulations would be instituted when the bill becomes law (the bill be debated in the Dewan Negara next).

He also stressed that there were no compensatory provisions under the act for unauthorised use of personal data.

"Complainants can institute civil action for remedy if personal data is abused for commercial transactions," he said.

Speaking at a press conference afterwards, Rais said once the law came into effect, credit reference agencies like CTOs would have to apply to the Personal Data Protection Commissioner's office before they can keep any personal data on individuals in their data bases.

Malaysia is among the first countries in Asean to introduce such legislation.

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