Amendments to long-delayed data protection law proposed

The Chinese-language United Daily News is reporting that the Ministry of Justice sent a bill to amend the Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA) to the Executive Yuan last Wednesday. The Act became law nearly two years ago but has yet to take effect.

According to the report, the draft bill would eliminate the requirement in the current version of the Act that if a person directly or indirectly collected personal information before the Act took effect, he would have to inform the subject of that personal information no more than one year after the Act took effect. PIPA § 54. Under the draft bill, he would merely need to inform the subject before using or processing the personal information. The relaxing of the notification requirement is intended to lessen the burden of the Act on financial institutions, particularly banks. Credit-card issuers, for example, complained that they could not meet the notification requirement in one year for 60 million cards.

The draft legislation reportedly also adds an exception to a controversial provision that prohibits collection or use of medical records, genetic information, sexual history, health examinations, and criminal records with four relatively narrow exceptions. PIPA § 6. This provision was construed during the public hearings as meaning that patients would not be able to take test results from one hospital to another. The proposed fifth exception would allow individuals to consent to the collection of these types of sensitive personal information and also allow its use in the promotion of the public interest.

Finally, the Ministry of Justice’s draft bill would decriminalize prohibited use and collection of personal information where the person unlawfully collecting or using the information lacked  intent to profit from such use. The current Act imposes a maximum sentence of two years or a fine of up to NT$200,000 for violating the core prohibitions of the Act without commercial intent. PIPA § 41.

Ministers without Portfolio Luo Ying-shay and Lin Jung-tzer are reviewing the bill this week. To become law it will need to be approved by the Executive Yuan Council (the cabinet) and enacted by the Legislature.

The Ministry of Justice said that they hoped that the Legislature would enact the bill by the end of the current legislative session (31 May). Otherwise, the non-controversial provisions of the law will take effect first with the more controversial parts held in abeyance until the Legislature amends them.