Apple Daily warned against transferring personal data

The sale of the newspaper involves freedom of the press, national security, data protection and workers’ benefits, the culture ministry said.

  • By Shelley Shan / Staff Reporter

Apple Daily (Taiwan) has been warned that it must not transfer personal data to any third party without legal permission, the Culture Ministry said in a statement yesterday, adding that the newspaper is required to submit a detailed plan on the how it plans to handle the data within 10 days.

The sale of the Chinese-language online newspaper has come under scrutiny after Economic Democracy Union official Lai Chung-chiang (賴中強) accused the newspaper’s new owner, the Singaporean Joseph Phua (潘杰賢) for accepting funding from China and intending to use Apple Daily (Taiwan) archived data for purposes unrelated to the operation of an Apple website news, which may also violate the Personal Data Protection Act (個人資料保護法).

In June, Lai reported the case to the Shilin District Prosecutor’s Office in Taipei.

Photo: ANC

The sale involves various issues, such as press freedom, national security, personal data protection and workers’ benefits, the ministry said, adding that it sent a letter to Apple Daily (Taiwan) on Wednesday to remind its management that the way they collect, process and use personal data must comply with the Personal Data Protection Act and other relevant regulations.

The law would protect most data held by Apple Daily (Taiwan), including information about newspaper employees, advertisers, freelance writers and subscribers to print and online content, the ministry said.

Material by which personal information could be directly or indirectly identified is also protected by law, such as annual tax reports and information that has not been published, he said.

“We ask the newspaper to stipulate a detailed plan to ensure the security of personal data in its possession. The plan should also detail how personal data will be disposed of after the business closes. Such a plan should be delivered to the Ministry of Culture within 10 days,” the ministry said.

Personal data should not be transferred to a third party without legal permission, he said.

If a new company or platform is created following the change in ownership, the new management should not use the database if its use violates the law, he added.

Apple Daily (Taiwan) said in a statement on Wednesday that the personal data of employees and subscribers, as well as published and unpublished documents, would be destroyed after being archived for several years.

The Labor Standards Law (勞動基準法) stipulates that current and former employee information must remain on file for five to seven years before being destroyed, while the Business Entity Accounting Law (商業會計法) stipulates that financial statements, tax reports and other related documents must be kept for five to ten years, according to the statement.

Subscribers’ information would be retained, as some have yet to cancel their subscriptions and request a refund, he said.

“We will also abide by Article 21 of the Personal Data Protection Law Enforcement Rules (個人資料保護法施行細則) and archive both published and unpublished materials,” the newspaper said.

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