Media urged to develop code of practice

Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Issue 849, Page 3
Word count: 519
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

The Office for Personal Data Protection (GPDP) has recently received a complaint against a local media organisation for having invaded privacy, and also called the industry to develop a code of practice as soon as possible.

Chief of the GPDP Chan Hoi Fan said in a seminar regarding the Personal Data Protection Law for media workers yesterday.

Ms Chan said it was the first ever complaint against media coverage since the office was founded in March 2007.

Although the complaint was lodged during the direct legislative election period last month, she said that it was not necessarily related to the election and denied that the complainant was one of the 16 candidate lists.

The GPDP chief also said that the media organisation, which is a private company, did not yet know about the complaint and the office will notify them when it reaches a certain stage of investigation.

“We’re still in the process of obtaining evidence and cannot yet estimate how long the investigation will take,” Ms Chan added.

However, according to Article 4 of the Macau Publishing Law, when freedom of the press is involved, only the courts will have the jurisdiction to decide whether or not the media organisation has violated the Personal Data Protection Law.

In addition, the GPDP received another complaint which accused a newspaper advertisement of having invaded the privacy of an enterprise.

Ms Chan said that each local media organisation should develop various policies of personal data management and also collaborate to establish a unified code of practice so that media workers will have standards to follow when doing news reporting.

“The code of practice has to be developed by the whole industry… the media should have their own plan or ideas [about how to draft the code] first and from there our office can participate in it and provide support throughout the process,” she said.

Investigations, enquiries on a rise

According to the 2007 to 2009 statistics of the GPDP, it was found that the numbers of investigations and public enquiries about the Personal Data Protection Law had been on a significant rise year-on-year.

From January to October 13 this year, 38 investigations have been implemented and of which nine are against public institutes, 24 against private organisations and 16 against individuals.

When compared to 2007 (beginning April) and 2008, the figures were 22 and 35 respectively, with a majority of the investigations pointing at private organisations.

In regard to enquiries, the numbers soared from 43 in 2007, to 207 in 2008 and to 484 as of October 13, 2009.

Ms Chan attributed the increase in enquiries to the rising public awareness of the protection of privacy and personal data.

On the other hand, the GPDP chief said the office will continue to follow the case regarding some CTM landline users’ phone numbers, names and addresses having been published on the Macau Residential Telephone Directory.

Despite the suggestions made to CTM in the GPDP opinion report were not mandatory, Ms Chan said the office will keep on monitoring the situation and added that the company did not refuse to implement those recommendations.

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