Understanding Privacy Context in Asian Culture and Challenges to Indonesian Government

ELSAM – Hong Kong, Data privacy protection in digital technology development has always been an issue in the international conference. This also includes the international policy agenda which binds government as the data collector and the industries which run the data collection activity and their business model. The challenges are still comprising of two main frames: i) what kind of international policy which can bridge the agreement of data collectors parties; ii) how far is the concept of ‘notice and consent’ of the individuals can be the weapon of data privacy protection in digital industry especially in Asia region. The crossborder connectivity also complicates the mapping of actors and how far the data collectors are responsible for. In Indonesian context, how ready is it in terms of regulations and policies to correspond to the growing development?

ELSAM had an opportunity to attend the conference and discussion related to updated global issues on technology and data privacy protection on 25 – 30 September 2017. The occassions were the 39th International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners ­(ICDPPC) and academic discussion with UN Special Rapporteur on Rights to Privacy, held in Law Faculty, Hong Kong University.

The ICDPPC conference is a medium for  stakeholders related to privacy to meet. The attendees were the country’s representatives, especially policy legislators, Data Privacy Authorities (or independent institution as a special commission to handle privacy issue), representatives from industry such as Google and Microsoft, civil society organisation and academician.

Privacy and Asian Culture

One of panels discussed the data privacy protection in Asia, particularly in Eastern culture. In the discussion, linguistically the privacy terminology was unknown in Asian culture or eastern culture. Specifically in Phillipine and Korea, the term privacy remained unknown in their national language. In its development, several Asian countries such as Korea and Singapore have quite strict and innovative regulations due to privacy rights protection. It aims at building a trustworthy business ecosystem, including for the customers.

Related to privacy concept in Asian culture, Usha Ramanathan, an independent researcher from India, explained that in Asian countries including India, privacy rights concept was implicitly acknowledged as part of human rights. The internet technology development, and its mate with data collection and use do not simply change the privacy concept and understand the setback of its protection. Technology, social media for instance, has great contribution over data control. However, there should be an innovation or change in the way of responding the development. One of the example is to extend the responsibilities from any sectors, not only an individual as a data holder, but also the data collector.

Notice and Consent Concept and Privacy as Seen from Gender Studies

‘Consent’ or agreement is the basis in building trust in the midst of digital information and economy development. In the context of online relationship, this concept is fundamental. Yet, in practice, it is difficult to build a balanced relations architecture between the data owner and collector. Therefore, the neglect of privacy does exist.

In practice, we can see from the social media platform registration. For example, the notification or warning is shown  in an instant form with complicated substances; too long with small font. It makes the users have no other choice than to approve, while it has long term consequence.

In ICDPPC forum, there was a question raised that if notice-and-consent method was no longer effective to build a healthy relationship, were there any other ways? One of the discourse to discuss was about the accountability of data collection process. However, this has not answered the question yet.

Related to privacy and gender issues, the concept is also important. In the context of women’s group, there will always be a double discrimination, including in privacy protection. Bishakha Datta from Point of View organisation in India critically questioned  this. “Is is true that women have privacy?”

Bishaka explained that traditionally, women have already lost their privacy after marriage. For instance, women will lose their rights before law after having husband. “In digital era, such thing still happens,” Bishaka said.

The woman who is also an Indian filmmaker gave the depiction as follows: women are vulnerable in the case of intimate photo spread. Firstly, the photo was often taken without any consent from the (female) model; Secondly, if there is an approval (from the model) to take the private photo/pose, it does not mean that she approves the spread of the pictures; Thirdly, it is not only her personal information being exposed, women will always be a victim who is considered immoral for being willing to be photographed.

As Bishaka illustrated, the discussion held in Hong Kong University peeled more comprehensive on the definition of notice and consent. Even the consent needs more steps of explanation. It started from the consent of data collection, use and process of data, as well as its distribution to the third party. In this case, the data owner must understand clearly and have negotiation mechanism without neglecting their rights.

Challenge of Regulations in Indonesia

In September 2017, Indonesian government through Ministry of Communication and Information (Kominfo) still struggled to include Personal Data Protection Bill in National Legislation Program (Prolegnas) 2018. Thus, Indonesian citizen will have a positive law which gives protection of privacy comprehensively and cross-sectoral.

In this case, Indonesian government as the initiator of the regulation needs to improve the Bill with the current issue globally. One of the examples is General Data Protection Regulation *GDPR), a regulation in European Union which regulates the non-government institution as the data collector whether is in or outside Europe. This is necessary to keep the stability of digital economy developed by Jokowi-JK administration.

Another is, the urgency of establishing independent body to control the security of data privacy is also an interesting global issue. Since the government works related to privacy protection in several countries  are assisted by the independent body. Its study is to protect privacy in the digital economy development context and also as part of society’s civil and political rights.