Draft data privacy bill heads for NLA debate

Draft data privacy bill heads for NLA debate

Thailand's draft data protection bill is expected to go through the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) debate within the next four months.

This follows its complete revision by the Information and Communication Technology Ministry.

"After the NLA passes the draft bill, it should become effective by the end of 2016," said Surangkana Wayuparb, executive director of the Electronic Transactions Development Agency (ETDA).

Thailand spent almost two decades working to implement a data privacy law because of setbacks from political instability.

Mrs Surangkana said with the number of threats and the sophistication of cyberattacks increasing, there was a high risk for personal data breaches.

ETDA's ThaiCERT team, which is responsible for handling cybersecurity incidents, found hundreds of thousands of devices in Thailand have security vulnerabilities, with high risk of being penetrated.

Thailand has 30 million internet users and Asean has 159 million and growing, making this law a priority, she said.

Emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things and machine-to-machine communication pose a major cybersecurity threat next year as a greater volume of information will flow into the country's ICT networks.

In 2014, Facebook users in Thailand shared almost 2.5 million pieces of content, YouTube users uploaded 72 hours of new video, and email users sent over 200 million messages. There is plenty of personal data that can be stolen, Mrs Surangkana said.

Surakiart Sathirathai, president of the Asian Society of International Law, said it was time for Thailand to have laws governing personal data protection to support the country's digital economy policy. These laws will provide terms and definitions for privacy protection in line with international principles.

But Mr Surakiart acknowledged race, ethnicity or religious beliefs have the potential to challenge effective privacy legislation from an international perspective. Even with a privacy law in place, greater efforts must be made to develop practical guidelines for privacy protection in order to accommodate both Eastern and Western thoughts and ways of life, he said.

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