It can be seen from past cases where the FSC imposed penalties that there have been numerous instances of banks making illegal inquiries about personal data or divulging it to others. Taiwanese banks and local branches of overseas banks alike have been caught breaking the rules, but the only penalty the JCIC can impose is to temporarily suspend the offending institution’s right to look up data, which is hardly enough to deter institutions from breaking the rules.
If Taiwanese banks have broken the rules so often, how can we trust Chinese banks to abide by the system of their own accord? Perhaps now is the time for us to reconsider this -monster, which was born before the laws on personal data protection came into existence.
If one considers the various laws in Taiwan, one will find that the Personal Information Protection Act is too general. It only provides the most basic standards for regulating ordinary situations. As to the Regulations Governing Authorization and Administration of Service Enterprises Engaged in Interbank Credit Information Processing and Exchange (銀行間徵信資料處理交換服務事業許可及管理辦法), the emphasis of this law is on setting standards for consent, but it says very little about how data is to be processed and used, and it has no penalty guidelines.
In the US, although there is no single centralized credit information center such as exists in Taiwan, there are still various laws, such as the Fair Credit Reporting Act and the Consumer Credit Protection Act, that regulate the conditions under which institutions may legally gain access to consumers’ credit data, and these laws place the burden of proof of not having transferred the data for other purposes on the institution. They also lay out the procedures to be followed when there is a dispute about data.
In Taiwan, a single non--governmental foundation has credit data on almost every person and company in the country in its hands, giving it a national monopoly on such information. Such an institution could not exist in other countries. Isn’t it about time we put a law in place to monitor and regulate it?
Lai Chung-chiang is deputy president of the Taiwan Association for Human Rights. Chiu E-ling is the director of media and publication for the association.
TRANSLATED BY JULIAN CLEGG