Personal Data Protection Bill
The Malaysian government has announced that the Electronic Transactions Bill and the Electronic Government Activities Bill will be tabled before Parliament next year.
Both bills are intended to (i) encourage domestic internet users to conduct business online, and (ii) allay concerns that existing laws do not address unique legal issues arising from electronic transactions (eg, the validity of electronic signatures, the recognition of electronic messages, and the formation and validity of automated transactions).
The September 11 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States caused governments in many countries to seek an equilibrium in protecting the privacy and data of individuals on the one hand, and ensuring government access to information for national security reasons on the other.
This delicate balancing act is mirrored in the Malaysian government’s recent announcement that it will require more time to consider the enactment of the Personal Data Protection Bill 2000.
One reason for scrutinizing the effects of enactment is to ensure that the bill does not hinder or prevent law enforcement authorities from obtaining vital information regarding individuals who could threaten national security. The bill already contains exemptions concerning the protection of personal data in cases where its disclosure or use is required to safeguard national interests, defence or international relations, and for crime detection and prevention purposes.
The government’s review of the effects of the bill may widen the scope of circumstances and exemptions where personal data can be disclosed and used by law enforcement agencies to protect national security. To date, the government has not announced when its study of the bill is likely to be complete, nor when it will be tabled before Parliament.
For further information on this topic please contact Sharon Suyin Tan at Zaid Ibrahim & Co by telephone (+603 2087 9999) or by fax (+603 2094 4888) or by email ([email protected]).