KUALA LUMPUR: The Personal Data Protection Act, aimed at preventing abuse of personal data of citizens for commercial purposes, would come into force on Jan 1, said Deputy Information, Communications and Culture Minister Datuk Joseph Salang.
He said the Act, which was passed by Parliament in 2010, would play a crucial role in safeguarding the interest of individuals, and made it illegal for corporate entities or individuals to sell personal information or allow the use of data by third parties.
Many quarters, he said, felt that the enactment of the Act was timely as it would facilitate the transfer and transmitting of personal and often very important information seamlessly.
"It gives the public more control over their personal data. Whenever consent is required for data processing, it'll have to be given expressly rather than impliedly or be assumed," he said in his keynote address at the Second Annual Personal Data Protection Summit, here, today.
He said organisations, on the other hand, would need to embark on continuous data privacy audit exercise to ensure compliance with the law as they now faced increased responsibility and accountability in processing personal data disclosed to them.
Salang said, to administer this piece of legislation, the Personal Data Protection Department was established on May 16, 2011. The Act was similar to legislation to protect personal data which had been enacted in other jurisdictions such as Hong Kong, New Zealand, Canada and the European Union, he said.
Salang said under the Act, offenders were liable to be jailed for up to two years or fined RM300,000, or both, if convicted.
He urged the public to be careful about information they shared online, especially in social media applications.
"Unfortunately, this is an 'open window' to our lives which makes it easier for those with nefarious intent to obtain information and use it for their own ends," he cautioned.