From Brussels: The Islamic Legal Conceptions of Privacy

By: Sonny Zulhuda

IMG_20190130_094243Last week (1st February 2019) I concluded the International Conference on Privacy and Data Protection (CPDP2019) in the heart of Europe, City of Brussels. It is organised by a consortium of primary European universities, supported by global companies, and endorsed by the European Union institutions.

It’s the 12th edition of this annual global event on privacy & data protection. 3 days of fascinating and thought-provoking talks, speeches and discussions. Thank you @CPDPconferences for inviting me as a speaker on privacy in Islam.

Thanks to @darahallinan who initiated this panel for the first time. Entitled “Islamic Legal Conceptions of Privacy.” The idea is to understand how privacy is actually a universal value adopted by wide and global communities and traditions.

Being the first speaker, I first introduced that for every Muslim, Islam is the way of life and provides a comprehensive guidelines for both private and public interactions.

Then I spoke mainly on the evidences from the Quran (as the primary source of Islamic law) which provide basis of privacy right and how to implement it in life, starting from early childhood: they should ask parent’s permission before entering their private rooms at three specific times in a day.

I highlighted how important it is to respect others’ dignity by not transgressing their rights, not spying on them, not backbiting, not ridiculing them, and not calling them by undesired labelling/tagging.

Muslims are told to get mutual consent when affecting others’ rights, to record agreements, to enter their houses upon prior consent, and to leave if asked to. Not less importantly a command to investigate information received (verification and authentication).

Those are exactly the rights pertinent to privacy and data protection nowadays.

At the end, I noted that 1. Islam calls for peace, justice and harmony; 2. Privacy is one of important rights to be preserved; and 3. At all time, Muslims will be accountable to God, Society and oneself.

And not forgetting I also shared some updates on the privacy laws and Personal Data Protection laws in both Indonesia and Malaysia. Some good news here and there.

Thank You Chair, moderator and fellow panelists Prof Andrew Adams (Japan), Prof Elizabeth Coombs (Malta), Nighat Dad (Pakistan), Lahoussine Aniss (Marocco), and Patrick Penninckx (EU) for making it a beautiful panel. Looking forward to connecting further. Thank you @CPDPconferences.

#PrivacyinIslam #CPDP2019 #Brussels #Malaysia #Indonesia #PDPA

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Menyoal Tren “10 Years Challenge”

By: Sonny Zulhuda

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Akhir-akhir ini pengguna media sosial pasti sudah banyak melihat foto-foto transformasi wajah yang dilabel hashtag #10yearschallenge. Tidak kurang, politisi dunia hingga artis dan selebriti pun berpartisipasi dalam trend yang satu ini. Aktivitas ini dimanfaatkan oleh masyarakat media sosial sebagai bahan hiburan dan obrolan yang menarik dan tidak jarang menggelitik.

Namun, mungkin banyak yang sadar bahwa foto-foto yang disebar itu akan memudahkan pihak media sosial atau pihak ketiga untuk melakukan beberapa pekerjaan mereka seperti:

1. Penyempurnaan database wajah individu berikut kronologi tahun dan usia.
2. Penelitian pola transformasi wajah manusia berdasarkan usia, periode, dan demografi lainnya seperti ras, gender, lingkungan, dan lainnya.
3. Pemrograman pada teknologi artificial ingelligence dalam melakukan rekaan wajah secara lebih akurat.
4. Identifikasi dan penyamaran.

Apalagi, dengan label yang sangat indikatif seperti #10yearschallenge akan semakin memudahkan penyaringan dan interpretasi data sehingga memberikan jalan pintas untuk pencarian data itu sendiri. Label hashtag itu sama dengan fungsi metadata. Semakin banyak hashtag, maka akan semakin mudah pencarian data tersebut di domain publik.

Continue reading

From Privacy Suit to EU GDPR: Data Protection Updates from Malaysia – As reported in the Borneo Post

By: Sonny Zulhuda

The beginning of the year saw my interview with the Malaysian daily the Borneo Post that was published on 1st January 2019. This interview was initiated by my colleagues from the consultancy firm Straits Interactive. The report was entitled “Malaysians increasingly aware of risks with data breach.” It can be found in this link.

The article started to to note that Malaysians now are more aware about the risks associated with breaches of their personal data. In fact, we in Malaysia have seen in the past five years, that there is a sharp increase in data privacy civil suits in the local Malaysian courts.

Among the points I highlighted in the interview are as follows:

What are the costs of data breaches?

  • The cost of data breaches can be seen in many areas. In terms of legal liabilities, companies in breach of the Malaysian PDP Act 2010 can be fined up to RM500,000 – for offences such as unlawful sale or unlawful collection of personal data, as well as collection of data without the required certificate of registration.
  • And when a data breach occurs, costs can also be incurred through technical repairs and loss of reputation. Business can also suffer because of bad publicity.
  • Civil suits can also be brought against companies, and these can cost businesses a lot of money. Malaysians are becoming increasingly more aware of the risks associated with breaches of their personal data, and we have seen a sharp increase in data privacy civil suits in the local Malaysian courts in the past five years.

Are we prepared? Here is what I said:

  • Unlike companies in the US and Europe, many companies in the Asean have yet to reach an acceptable level of preparedness. Data protection does not tend to be a part of the business culture, however some industries (banking and finance) are more prepared due to legislation and legal requirements.
  • To bolster the understanding and preparedness of other industries, we need more public awareness, training, and certified professionals in the field of data protection.

What are among the common concerns?

  • One major concern in Malaysia is how much our MyKad (ID cards) details are easily and unnecessarily exposed. Many people needlessly impose the collection or retention of MyKad details before people start business communication or interactions, enter premises, or participate in events. Unfortunately, lots of people are happy to submit these details and this gives the impression that these practices are approved and not an issue.
  • Another problem is direct marketing, as well as unsolicited commercial calls, emails and text messages. While it’s clear individuals have the right to refuse direct marketing, it still regularly happens.

What has been prepared?

  • I highlighted that leading consultant like Straits Interactive plays the role to champion a public-private partnership by establishing alliance with academia, industries and the government. This partnership will ensure Malaysia as a nation moves together and responds to data privacy issues with a common understanding and comprehensive programmes.

Does the European Union GDPR (General Data Protection Regulations) have anything to do with the Malaysians?

  • With the passing and enforcement of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in May 2018, Malaysia needs to gear up for these stronger laws and better enforcement.
  • The GDPR applies to companies who also interact with European citizens, and this requires short-term training programmes and certifications in the field of data protection.
  • A collaboration at the regional level is also timely and necessary. We are heading towards that.

Credit on this Interview to the Straits Interactive and the Borneo Post.

Intellectual Property Rights and Open Data in the Digital Environment

By: Sonny Zulhuda

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A close forum named Focus Group Discussion (FGD) on IPR and Open Data in the Digital Environment was recently held on 9th November 2018 at Al-Nawawi Conference Room, Ahmad Ibrahim Kuliyyah of Law, International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM). The event was involving two universities from two countries which are the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) and Universitas Padjadjaran (UNPAD), Indonesia.

In his welcoming remarks, the Dean of Ahmad Ibrahim Kuliyyah of Laws, Prof. Dato’ Sri Dr. Ashgar Ali Ali Mohamed extended his gratitude and warm welcome to the delegations from UNPAD. He believed that this two-way discussion should be conducted more regularly in promoting the intellectual discourse between two countries. In a reciprocal gesture, Prof Dr H Ahmad M. Ramli from the Faculty of Law, UNPAD in his keynote address appreciated the initiative by IIUM in conducting this group discussion.

This FGD was part of the research work under the Fundamental Research Grant Scheme, funded by the Ministry of Education, Malaysia. The group discussion was divided into 4 sessions, involving 11 speakers altogether; 7 from UNPAD and 4 from IIUM. Here are some excerpts:

Session 1: IPR Between Tradition and Innovation Continue reading

Privasi dan Integritas Teknologi

Dr Sonny Zulhuda

This article, in Indonesian, was published in the national daily REPUBLIKA, on 3rd April 2018. This piece highlights the ultimate need to have a privacy-embedded technologies. Respecting privacy is a prerequisite to maintain the integrity in the use of technology. As I concluded, the connectivity that we currently enjoy shall not eliminate the identity and integrity that shape who we are, as individuals and nation.

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boss-spying-on-youBerbagai isu kebocoran data pribadi seperti yang baru-baru ini berlaku pada data registrasi nomor telpon seluler di Indonesia, dan juga pada data pengguna Facebook di Amerika Serikat (AS), membawa kita kepada pertanyaan yang lebih fundamental, yaitu hak privasi terhadap data. Apakah hak privasi itu sendiri?

Jarang didefinisikan, namun sering diperdebatkan. Misalnya, dalam menyikapi isu penyadapan komunikasi oleh penegak hukum di Indonesia, masyarakat kita berpolemik sejauh mana penyadapan bisa dilakukan, mengingat efeknya yang mengoyak kebebasan dalam berkomunikasi. UUD 1945 menjamin hak kita untuk berkomunikasi dan menyampaikan pemikiran atau pendapat. Jika komunikasi kita disadap, maka hak kita sudah disunat. Dalam konteks inilah Dewan Keamanan Nasional AS dikritik tajam ketika mantan pekerjanya Edward Snowden mengungkap praktik Badan itu dalam mengawasi komunikasi dan data pribadi pengguna Internet AS dan global.

Di Malaysia, pengadilan memvonis salah perbuatan memasang kamera CCTV di pekarangan rumah sendiri namun mengarahkannya ke halaman rumah orang lain karena mengganggu privasi tetangganya. Di Afganistan, orang dilarang memanjat genteng rumahnya sendiri sebelum memberitahukan tetangganya agar si jiran tidak terlihat dalam kondisi yang memalukan. Di Korea, kamera telpon seluler harus disetting dengan suara yang cukup nyaring sehingga orang tahu jika ia difoto di kawasan publik. Semua contoh diatas muaranya sama, yaitu melindungi privasi orang.

Kita tidak ingin teknologi modern yang nisbi menggerus sisi kemanusiaan yang universal dan hakiki. Teknologi informasi kita di negeri ini tidak boleh bebas nilai, dan tidak boleh pula miskin nilai. Koneksitas dan mobilitas yang semakin baik merupakan anugerah yang harus kita syukuri. Namun perlu diingat, koneksitas tidak dapat menghapus identitas, dan mobilitas tidak bisa meminggirkan integritas. Majulah TI di Indonesia.

Berasal dari bahasa Inggris, “privacy” berarti hak untuk bersendirian dan untuk tidak diawasi oleh orang lain. Padanannya dalam bahasa Arab adalah “huquq fardiyyah” (hak-hak pribadi) atau “huquq al-hurmah” (dignity atau maruah).

Dalam dialektika Alquran, Continue reading

Data Breach a Test to Our Digital Resilience

By: Sonny Zulhuda
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Malaysian public has recently been perturbed by a series of personal data breach one after another. While the investigation is taking place, one can only expect that what has surfaced may only be a tip of an iceberg.
As the country embraces digital economy and aims at a cashless society by 2020, this data security crisis becomes a part of the equation. More digitised information and more synchronised data mean a bigger risk of data breach calamities. As a country, there is no backing out from this equation even though that means we have to learn it hard.
As a consequence, a data breach is not a matter of ‘whether’ but is a matter of ‘when’ it will happen. This requires us to adopt a risk management approach. Failure of managing the risks can be increasingly costly. The problem is, it is too often when we realise there is a data, it may be already too late. The alleged leak and illegal sale of Malaysian telecommunications data are said to have happened years ago. By now, we are already five years too late!
Time is of the essence here. As we start to learn about the breaches that took place, swift actions are warranted. There are few points to consider by all the stakeholders.
Firstly, data users can do the least by keeping the public informed about what is going on.
Even though our PDP law does not oblige data users to notify data subjects about any breach, this is warranted for transparency and trust preservation, and hence their business continuity plan.
Secondly, we should treat this as an issue of national security.
Not only because massive data of the majority of the public is affected, but also because those data come from the telecommunications and financial industries which are deemed among the ten critical national information infrastructures (CNII) as outlined by the Malaysian National Cyber Security Policy (NCSP) 2006. So, data security under this CNII must be given utmost priority. Both public and private sectors must cooperate in dealing with the crises.
Thirdly, it is time to test the mechanism of our law.
These incidents of a personal data breach either maliciously or negligently occurred, will need to be tested against the Personal Data Protection principles enshrined in the Act. The authority needs to speed up the activation of the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) 2010 after some “day-nap”. Other agencies need to help in accordance with the statutory powers granted to each of them.

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The year 2017 is notably the beginning of some successful prosecutions under the Act, which is a crucial milestone in itself. On a positive note, we should take this crisis as an opportunity to also prove our legal mechanism. 

On top of that, what we are facing now is something bigger: it is testing our resilience as a nation. The challenge is more than a damage control: it is to deal efficiently with the massive data crisis like what is happening now.

This is not a one-off duty as data security is a process rather than a result. As Vince Lombardi was once famously quoted, it is not so much about how we fall down, but rather on how to raise back. And by “we” I mentioned in this last paragraph, it is you and me and every one of us the individuals to whom the personal data actually belong to.

Apapun Disiplin Ilmumu, Pelajarilah Ekonomi Digital!

APAPUN DISIPLIN ILMUMU, PELAJARILAH EKONOMI DIGITAL!

Oleh: Sonny Zulhuda

APAC Cyber Summit 2016_1

1. Indonesia dan Malaysia melalui pemimpinnya masing-masing telah menetapkan bahwa Ekonomi Digital menjadi fokus utama dalam membangun negara dan meningkatkan ekonomi bangsa. Tidak hanya jalur lebar Internet yang diperhebat, namun penguasaan konten lokal dan industri kreatif kini menjadi generator baru bagi kemajuan bangsa.

2. Pengalaman saya selama 15 tahun sebagai peneliti, akademisi dan praktisi hukum teknologi informasi, melihat semakin perlunya kita untuk memparalelkan segala ilmu, pengetahuan dan teori yang kita pelajari dengan perkembangan dunia digital. Ekonomi digital yang didominasi dengan penguasaan teknologi informasi dan optimalisasi data mengharuskan kita menjawab berbagai tantangan digital.

3. Saya saksikan sendiri di berbagai universitas top di dunia seperti Oxford, Sydney, UNSW, Tsinghua, Toronto dan Yonsei University mereka sudah mendirikan lembaga kajian yang fokus terhadap isu konvergensi teknologi informasi dalam berbagai aspeknya. Universitas Indonesia dan UNPAD saya pikir sudah memulai lebih awal dalam konteks Indonesia. Yang lainnya, belum kelihatan! Sementara, semakin banyak pula lembaga internasional yang menyediakan program, beasiswa, fellowship dan event-event yang bertujuan mencari bakat-bakat muda dalam kajian konvergensi informasi ini.  Continue reading

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