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Thailand Reinforcing Personal Data Protection Measures

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Thailand has faced data leakage issues, raising concerns about cybersecurity readiness and personal data protection. In one instance, the personal details of tourists were exposed online, potentially impacting the country’s tourism sector.

Image credits: mdes.go.th

Additionally, a hacker posted leaked personal data from state agencies and private entities on a website, prompting warnings and the need for enhanced security measures. These incidents underscore the importance of robust cybersecurity measures and compliance with the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA), which regulates the collection, use, disclosure, and cross-border transfer of personal data in Thailand.

In response to the Prime Minister’s directive to address the alarming issue of public information leakage and illicit trading of personal data, Mr Prasert Chandraruangthong, the Minister of Digital Economy and Society (DE), announced a series of urgent measures aimed at safeguarding citizens’ data and enhancing cybersecurity.

The minister revealed a comprehensive plan, including establishing the Personal Data Violation Surveillance Centre (PDPC Eagle Eye) and intensified investigations into vulnerabilities in the cybersecurity systems of critical government agencies.

The Personal Data Violation Surveillance Centre, operationalised by the Office of the Personal Data Protection Commission (PDC), has been tasked with expediting inspections of public information disclosures.

Between November 9 and December 28, 2023, the PDPC Eagle Eye Centre scrutinised data from 15,820 agencies. Shockingly, it was discovered that 4,801 agencies had leaked information encompassing various sectors:

  • Local government organisations (Local Administrative Organizations): 2,600 agencies
  • Other government agencies (non-local administrative organisations): 1,975 agencies
  • Educational institutions: 153 agencies
  • Private sector: 25 agencies

Of the identified leakages, 4,753 agencies have already implemented corrective measures, with 48 agencies currently rectifying the issues. Simultaneously, the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) investigated the cybersecurity systems of critical information infrastructure (CII) agencies, including those in energy, public health, government services, and finance. During the same period, the NBTC discovered a high level of risk in 22 agencies and promptly notified them to address the vulnerabilities.

The fight against personal data trading extended beyond national borders, with one of social media company being a focus of attention. Minister Prasert disclosed that 10 cases of personal information trading within one of the social media platforms had been identified and subsequently blocked. Additionally, the authorities uncovered three instances of trading on the Dark web, notorious for hosting illegal activities.

Minister Prasert emphasised the gravity of data theft and underscored DE’s commitment to expedited investigations into information disclosure and cybersecurity lapses across various agencies. Mainly, stern warnings were issued to government entities responsible for handling significant citizen information. The minister stressed that negligence or repeated mistakes in safeguarding data would be met with strict legal consequences.

To combat criminal activities related to information theft and trading, Minister Prasert announced ongoing investigations and prosecutions, collaborating with the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI). Arrests and punishments have been meted out, with cooperation sought from local law enforcement. Furthermore, international collaboration with the global police community is underway to ensure that even foreign perpetrators face justice.

Further, Thailand’s data protection landscape has undergone a transformative shift with the full implementation of the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) on June 1, 2022. The PDPA has not only solidified the nation’s commitment to securing personal data but has also introduced extraterritorial implications, significantly broadening the scope of Thailand’s data protection regulations.

The extraterritorial effect of the PDPA implies that organisations operating outside Thailand but handling the personal data of Thai citizens are bound by the provisions of the PDPA. This expansion of jurisdiction underscores the global nature of data transactions and emphasises the need for international organisations to align their data protection practices with Thailand’s regulatory framework.

Thailand has demonstrated an unwavering stance against the rising threats of information leaks and cybercrimes. The implementation of immediate measures, collaboration with relevant authorities, and pursuing legal consequences for wrongdoers underscore the government’s commitment to protecting citizens’ digital privacy and ensuring a secure online environment.

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