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Putting people first?

  • If using such information for political purposes cannot constitute unlawful abuse, powerless people like us may just have to submissively swallow the injustice. Photo courtesy: Bernama

By CHONG LIP TECK
Sin Chew Daily

With the general election about to come any time, politicians on both sides of the great divide are busy with tactics to woo the voters at the same time probing their intent.

Voting trends could be obtained by means of a survey. This year alone I have received two such phone calls, and from how the conversations were started at the other end of the line, I was quite sure they were made to gauge my voting inclination.

I didn't have much time and patience to entertain their mechanized questions over the phone, and the calls were made at a time I was very busy at the editorial desk. So I declined to take part in the surveys.

Receiving such calls is like receiving calls from companies trying to sell you something. I wonder from where these people have managed to get my contact number, and the two survey callers did not specify which organizations they were from, or perhaps I missed it?

Anyway, it appears that my information is too easy to obtain, and anyone can just ring me up anytime.

From the fact we all have received plenty of junk calls from all sorts of organizations, it proves a point that those authorized to possess our personal data have inconsiderately sold such information to unwarranted third party individuals.

We trusted them, and handed to them our confidential information and then signed some sort of contract with them whereas they must not divulge any part of our information to third party individuals without our consent

They have obviously reneged on their pledge.

We do have a Personal Data Protection Act in this country to control the management, usage and storage of personal data obtained through a business deal. We nevertheless cannot deny that there are indeed shortcomings in the Act such that unwarranted abuse of personal data continues to happen since the Act went into effect in 2013.

Lest we forget, there were irresponsible quarters selling government examination candidates' information to private colleges in 2015. We have no idea what has happened to the investigation that ensued.

And the abuse of personal information by a high-level political leader of late to advance his own political motives has been a real eye-opener.

Through his power, deputy prime minster cum home minster Ahmad Zahid Hamidi managed to obtain the personal particulars of his former boss turned rival Tun Mahathir, whom he humiliated on a public occasion.

The move had nothing to do with the country's interest, and was made for the sheer purpose of bringing down the opponent.

The opposition, meanwhile, has been harping on this issue of our DPM blatantly infringing upon the Personal Data Protection Act. The public, in general, agree that such move has been illegal.

Unfortunately, the law has specified that the federal and state governments are not subjected to the Personal Data Protection Act.

Serious? Yes, and indeed the government is in possession of the largest amount of personal data in this country.

In that case, any politician can just make use of such information for political purposes? Even if revealing other people's confidential information for the purpose of humiliating the victim is not against the law, it is outright unethical! And we now have another classical instance of senior politicians placing their own political interests above those of the rakyat.

While defending Ahmad Zahid, other Umno politicians claimed that the DPM was only revealing information on Mahathir's IC, and that there's no problem making such information public. They argued that only abusing other people's identities for illegal activities could be considered illegal.

It looks like our politicians do not mind having their IC particulars made public. If using such information for political purposes cannot constitute unlawful abuse, powerless people like us may just have to submissively swallow the injustice. No wonder some Umno weirdos have openly claimed that they have the power of moving voters!

When we discover that our political leaders are abusing their powers or misappropriating public funds, and by right they should come under scrutiny for jeopardizing public interests, sadly they are always spared in the name of official secrets.

While the government has the power of conveniently classifying documents in the name of national security, we the rakyat absolutely have the right to demand that our government conscientiously protect our personal particulars..

Protecting the safety of our data should be made a government priority, and one of the ways of achieving this is to ensure the total implementation of Personal Data Protection Act.

 

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