AT THE outset, the establishment of PADU central data hub for the purpose of consolidating data for the evaluation of individual socio-economic status is a noble effort and deserves to be welcomed because it is a continuity of the LAKSANA project first implemented by the former Perikatan Nasional (PN) administration.
However, the MADANI Government seems to ignore crucial aspects of implementation.
The main aspect that should be prioritised at all costs is certainly the security of the data collected. Data collection on such a gargantuan scale has never been done in history yet is pursued solely by the executive power without legislative protection whatsoever.
We must remember our Personal Data Protection Act 2010 is unlike other international frameworks such as the European Union’s (EU) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in that data collected by the Malaysian government is not protected by law.
Even member of the public, including a former deputy minister (former Bangi MP Ong Kian Ming), have revealed several aspects of the system’s security weaknesses, including allowing others to register on one’s behalf without permission, passwords that can be changed by third parties as well as its application programming interface (API) which is exposed to public access.
This shows a loophole in the Economy Minister’s approach when developing a strategy to implement the data aggregation programme planned under PADU.
Even then, we have no clue whatsoever of the security system, including encryption which is supposed to protect our data. Has the security system been thoroughly tested and proven not to be easily breached? Or we shall see our data being sold on Shopee or the dark web in due course?
This promiscuous situation is something that should not be taken lightly. In fact, the unity government should prioritise the drafting of data protection and sharing laws through an Omnibus Bill proposed by several parties before.
Most importantly, there is now a serious trust deficit stemming from the Economic Minister whose project has stalled half-way like this. If not contained, it has the potential to create a crisis of confidence in government institutions as well.
The Parliament’s Special Select Committee (PSSC) should investigate incidents which occurred so that data security of Malaysians can eventually be guaranteed. At least in the event that the executive level fails, the Parliament will carry out responsibilities vested in it. – Jan 4, 2-2024
Bersatu Youth chief Wan Ahmad Fayhsal Wan Ahmad Kamal is also the Machang MP.
The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.