Indonesia passes long-awaited data protection bill

Indonesia passes long-awaited data protection bill

Lawmakers overwhelmingly approved bill.

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Indonesia's parliament passed into law on Tuesday a personal data protection bill that includes corporate fines and up to six years imprisonment for those found to have mishandled data in the world's fourth most populous country.

The bill's passage comes after a series of data leaks and probes into alleged breaches at government firms and institutions in Indonesia, from a state insurer, telecoms company and public utility to a contact-tracing Covid-19 app that revealed President Joko Widodo's vaccine records.

Lawmakers overwhelmingly approved the bill, which authorises the president to form an oversight body to fine data handlers for breaching rules on distributing or gathering personal data.

The biggest fine is 2 percent of a corporation's annual revenue and could see its assets confiscated or auctioned off.

The law includes a two-year "adjustment" period but does not specify how violations would be addressed during that phase.

The legislation stipulates individuals can be jailed for up to six years for falsifying personal data for personal gain or up to five years for gathering personal data illegally.

Users are entitled to compensation for data breaches and can withdraw consent to use their data.

Abdul Kharis Almasyhari, a member of the commission overseeing the law, said it would mean the state was ensuring the protection of personal data of its people.

Communications minister, Johnny G. Plate, said the bill's passage "marks a new era in the management of personal data in Indonesia."

"One of the obligations for electronic data organisers, whether public or private, is to ensure the protection of personal data in their system," he told reporters.

The law will also ease data transfers between Indonesia and countries with similar legislation, lawmaker Nico Siahaan said.

The law has been in the works since 2016 and was held up by debate about financial penalties and control of the oversight body, lawmakers said. Authorities have said the law was based on European Union legislation.

Wahyudi Djafar, who researches data protection for the Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy, questioned whether the penalties were strict enough to force government bodies to improve their data handling.

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