“Can my lecturer access my personal information?” – And Other Issues of Data Protection at the Higher Learning Institutions 

By: Sonny Zulhuda 

In the past week alone, I spoke about the personal data protection law at two Malaysian public universities; Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin (UniSZA) Kuala Terengganu and Universiti Malaysia Pahang (UMP) Pekan. While the former was an internal programme, the latter talk was attended by other public universities’representatives who were members of Majlis Tatatertib dan Disiplin Universiti-universiti Awam Malaysia (MATDUM).

In this post, I would like to note some discussions we had on the implementation of the Personal Data Protection Act 2010 at the University environment.

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The education industry is indeed among those where personal information is highly processed. The data subjects include students (prospective, actual and graduates), university’s employees, as well as any individuals involved in the data processing.

Continue reading

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Data Sovereignty vs Data Localisation Law

By: Sonny Zulhuda

Transferring personal data beyond national boundaries has been a point of contention under many data protection laws across the globe. The European Union adopts this restriction that such transfer beyond EU boundaries cannot be done unless to the countries or places which have adequate protection on personal data of individuals.

Cloud-Data-SecurityThis rule is associated with the concept of “Data Sovereignty” which says that a country shall not lose a control or sovereignty over the processing of personal data pertaining to data subjects from that country. It also imposes that information which has been stored in digital form is subject to the laws of the country in which it is located. Therefore, a control over trans-border data flow is a form of upholding data sovereignty.

The concept of Data Sovereignty is reflected in the EU Data Protection Directives 1995 recitals whereas:

  • cross-border flows of personal data are necessary to the expansion of international trade;
  • the protection of individuals guaranteed in the Community by this Directive does not stand in the way of transfers of personal data to third countries which ensure an adequate level of protection;
  • the transfer of personal data to a third country which does not ensure an adequate level of protection must be prohibited.

As much as we are concerned with personal data transferred beyond our border, we also appreciate that personal data is inherently needed for the International trade and International cooperation. Hence, when a personal data is subject to trans-border flow, there shall be no discriminatory treatment to the citizen’s personal data despite where it is processed.

Data Localisation Law

This data sovereignty is sometimes confused with the rules of “Data Localisation”, which is totally a different thing. Data localisation laws set forth requirements to keep and store data “locally” (i.e., within national or regional borders), and thus not allowing data users to transfer data beyond borders. Consequently, any foreign party who wishes to collect or process personal data of individuals will be required to establish a local data storage facilities in the country of those individuals. Continue reading

Social Media Policy and Regulation: A Network Governance Perspective

By: Sonny Zulhuda

The above is the name of the event in Tsinghua University, Beijing, on December 3-4, 2016, where I came as a speaker to the audience consisted of law, media and Internet governance academia and practitioners. Both Beijing-based School of Journalism and Communication of Tsinghua University and the School of Communication of Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU) jointly organised this event.

The invitation came to me through Dr. Yik Chan Chin of the HKBU, who is with me at the Global Internet Governance Academic Network (GigaNet). Upon few exchanges of emails, I was then invited to come and present my views on the social media regulations in the Malaysian perspective. I must say that the event was really a rewarding experience; filled with substantial discussions, new perspectives and, of course, new friends and network!

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This can be highlighted from the list of the speakers of the two-day workshop: Continue reading

Whither Digital Privacy: Be afraid, be very afraid!

By: Sonny Zulhuda

imageA quick takeaway from a closed session on Students’ Digital Privacy yesterday at Le Meridien KL (June 7th, 2013), I’d like to share what California-based Jeff Gould presented.

The SafeGov.org CEO told the audience of their research findings, among others:

  • The high significance of Facebook “Like” in profiling the identity of FB users;
  • Real possibility of identifying a person via DNA reconstruction taken from a gum;
  • Telco’s effort to provide some form of customer’s surveillance as their enhanced service;
  • ISP’s role in protecting children privacy through contractual agreements with the users/subscribers

Many things shared which are not new issues but came with novel modus operandi. We just need to be vigilant.

The closed session was attended by representatives from Cybersecurity Malaysia, Parents Action Group for Education (PAGE), FOMCA, Microsoft Corp, India-based CUTS and some local universities. Mr. Rosly Yahil from Cybersecurity Malaysia spoke about various initiatives taken in Malaysian context in dealing with the issues.

During the Q&A session, I managed to share with the floor on several issues and development on data privacy in Malaysia: Continue reading

Consumers to take control of their Personal Data

My Intro: The following passages were published by the Star in their Sunday Edition (6th January 2013) at pp 23-24. The article is about what Malaysian consumers should know and do in relation to their personal data. It is based on another interview the journalist had with me. For the benefit of the readers, I reproduce some parts of the article in this page. Should you want to read it in full, check the newspaper’s page HERE.

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“Consumers, take control of your personal data”

The Personal Data Protection Act 2010 has come into force, but the public will have to do their part to make it effective.

Credit: The Star Online

Credit: The Star Online

EAGER to win the grand prize, Maria (not her real name) did not hesitate to “drop” her name card at the door for a lucky draw at a company dinner. Weeks later, she found herself inundated with phone calls and text messages offering different services and products.

It is an accepted practice in Malaysia to leave our call cards or personal information at the registration counter of public events. But have you ever wondered what your personal data will be used for later? Or how it will be stored?

This has become so common here that no one thinks twice about the risks and implications, says personal data protection law expert Dr Sonny Zulhuda.

Under the newly enforced Personal Data Protection Act 2010 (PDPA), however, this practice will have to be reviewed, particularly for business entities that use these occasions as an opportunity to build their network of potential customers.

Continue reading

PDP Act Compliance Program – Where to Start?

By: Sonny Zulhuda

success manThis New Year was marked by concerns about complying with the Personal Data Protection (PDP) Act 2010 for Malaysian data users: Bankers, Telco’s, Insurers, Hospitals, Marketers, Airliners, Property Sellers, and many more.

For data users, this is what you may consider:

1. Get to know about the law and its implication to you;

2. Make self-assessment on your current business processes to what extent it complies (or not) with the law;

3. Plan a massive personal-data compliance programme.

For the first one, the shortcut is to attend forum, workshops or training on Personal Data Protection law. There are now few such training in the market. Identify them and get involved. There are few types of training you can consider, according to your needs:

Continue reading

What You Need to Know about the PDPA

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My Intro: The following article, appeared in The Star newspaper, is about public awareness on the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) 2010 (Act 709). The journalist had compiled the report out of few resources, including the PDP Department and myself (through series of interaction). It is indicated at the bottom of the article itself. I reproduce the article in this page for the benefit of more readers.

Cheers! Sonny Zulhuda

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“What You Need to Know about the PDPA”

(Reproduced from The Star Online, published on Sunday, 30/12/2012)

PDPA 2010A freelance journalist from Penang was already coping with the pain from a hemorrhoids surgery when she had to endure another hurtful experience – she discovered that her surgeon had taken photographs of her private parts without her consent when she was under.

When she confronted him, she was told that it was “normal procedure” and a common practice for “medical purposes”. Outraged that her privacy had been violated, she sued the doctor.

This is one of the many cases of personal data breaches and privacy violations in the country. Hence, the enforcement of the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) this New Year is much lauded. In fact, it is long awaited – for some, over a decade long.

However, while pictures of one’s private parts may constitute as personal data, the aggrieved patient would not be able to take action under the Act – our PDPA only regulates commercial transactions. (The freelance journalist, however, won RM25,000 in damages in her civil court case.)

Here are some of the facts you need to know about the PDPA: Continue reading

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