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KMT puts brakes on controversial personal data act
Central News Agency
2010-04-22 05:31 PM
Taipei, April 22 (CNA) The legislative caucus of the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) decided Thursday to postpone the third reading of amendments to the Personal Data Protection Act amid fierce criticism from the local mass media.

Legislator Lin Yi-shih, who is head of the KMT's policy committee, said the leading members of the caucus, after consultation with Cabinet officials, decided Friday to ask the plenary session of the legislature to postpone the third reading of the bill.

However, the legislature is expected to make a firm decision on the revisions at its next plenary session on April 27, Lin said.

The KMT lawmakers stalled the bill amid complaints in the media about a clause that would require news organizations to obtain the consent of an individual before they could publicize his or her personal information. This is seen likely to cramp the operations of many publications and TV talk shows that have built their business on sensational expose's.

The controversy flared up Tuesday after the legislature's Organic Laws and Statutes Committee decided to strike out a clause in the amendments that would have exempted the media from the consent requirement.

The mass-circulated China Times said in its editorial Thursday that the revised bill is unconstitutional, and if it is passed it will ruin the country's hard-earned freedom of the press and undermine President Ma's promise to protect human rights.

The editorial blasted the Ministry of Justice, which crafted the original version of the amendments, and the legislature, which struck out the media exemption clause, as the chief culprits in what it said was a bungled attempt to protect pesonal data. Meanwhile Tan Cheng-hsiang, director of the Legal Affairs Department under the Ministry of the Justice said the revisions were aimed at protecting people's personal information rather than limiting freedom of the press.

The original intention was to exclude the mass media from the stipulation, but this idea was opposed by the majority of people with whom the ministry consulted, he added.

(By Maubo Chang)

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