Focus View
Time for a commission to protect personal data
FocusM team | 24 Nov 2017 00:30
The past few weeks have been bad for consumers with news on various security breaches affecting personal data. The latest scandal is that Uber, the popular ride-hailing service, deliberately concealed a huge personal data breach by paying US$100,000 to hackers to delete the stolen data. 

This follows reports a few weeks ago about the data breach involving 44 million local telco users’ personal data. The stolen data apparently included phone numbers, identity card number, address, profession and more. This is indeed worrying as online and financial fraud is on the increase.

Malaysian police reveal they have found some evidence that the massive data hack came from an Internet Protocol address in Oman!   

Then last week, CIMB Bank also reported the loss of data tapes containing client information. A popular online forum, Lowyat.net, also says it received a tip-off that there are unidentified parties attempting to sell large databases belonging to JobStreet.com, Malaysian Medical Council, Malaysian Medical Association, Malaysian Dental Association and even a registry of housing loan applications. 

While it cannot be ascertained if all this is true, it is indeed worrying that data can be easily stolen and in some cases, sold. 

Perhaps it is time to set up our own Personal Data Protection Commission (PDPC) similar to what Singapore has. The island-state’s PDPC requires organisations to comply with rules. It also looks after the interests of consumers and their personal data by accepting individual complaints. The Singapore government also has a national registry known as “Do Not Call” (DNC) which has names of all individuals who do not wish to receive calls from telemarketeers and banks.   

In Malaysia, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission enforces the Personal Data Protection Act 2010 (PDPA) together with the Department of Data Protection under the Communications and Multimedia Ministry. But given the recent data breaches, consumers need a special commission to look after their interests too.

Consumers are getting fed-up of receiving unsolicited calls and text messages from banks, online gambling sites and even real estate agents. Moreover, with internet commerce poised to surge, how safe are our personal data shared on various e-commerce sites such Grab, Amazon.com or Airbnb? 

It is pointless having the PDPA without tight enforcement. It is time to protect the interests of consumers as well. 

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