I was invited by the Dean of Law faculty of University of Malaya, Prof Abu Bakar Munir, to attend his recent public letcure entitled “Data Protection Law: Too Little, Too Late” on last Tuesday 4 August 2009.
He started his lecture by qouting the lyric from one of the late Michael Jackson’s song “Somebody’s Watching Me” and also the comment of Bill Gates in 1996:
“Great deal of information is already being gathered about each of us, by private companies as well as government agencies, and we often have no idea how it is used or whether it is accurate.”
Below is the outline of the course covered and power point used during the lecture:
- Reality Check
- Privacy & Data Protection
- International Instruments
- World Tour & Approaches
- Malaysia: The Cost For Not Protecting Personal Data
- Regulations and Practices so far
- Data Protection Law: Common Features
- Our Law
There are few useful and interesting things I wish to share with you after attending the lecture:
1. Reference Industry
There are more and more companies involve in data selling business which procures the emerging of reference industry. It is interesting to note that a company selling toys included the sale of its customer profiles as part of the company’s liquidation.
Prof Abu Bakar also shown us a stack of data he claimed was bought by his friend from a property developer at RM0.50 per name. I am not suprise of his allegation as this is how most of the real estate agents obtain the house owner’s contact details.
2. International Instruments in Protecting Data
3. Privacy and data protection including The right to be left alone, Informational privacy, Bodily privacy, Privacy of communications, Territorial privacy.
4. Based on a reliable study, Malaysian governement ranked at 25th top e-government in the world.
5. Malaysian government is in the midst of enacting the the Data Protection Bill (since 2000), you may see a list of the progress of such Bill here and the current Deputy Minister of Information, Communication and Culture, Ms Heng Seai Kie, said that “We are determined to get it done this year. This Act is vital in protecting our privacy and to safeguard personal information”.
6. However, the current provisions regulating the data protection issues are based on the General Consumer Code of Practice for the Communications and Multimedia Industry Malaysia (2003) and the BNM Minimum Guidelines on the Provision of Internet Banking Services by Licensed Banking Institutions (2000)
7. Based on preview of the General Consumer Code of Practice for the Communications and Multimedia Industry Malaysia (2003), Prof Abu Baker Munir commented on privacy policies issued by some of the telcos e.g. TM, Jaring & Maxis.
In view of the rampancy of the abuse of personal information in our countries (I am sure you have been receiving many cold calls, scam emails, soliciting sms…etc) a comprehensive and up-to-date data protection act is most welcome, however, on another hand, such legislation must also take into account of commercial viability. Otherwise it may undermine the development of decent commercial transaction.