The Economic Democracy Union think tank yesterday filed a judicial complaint against two executives of the Taiwanese edition of the Apple Daily news Web site, accusing them of breaching the Personal Data Protection Act (個人資料保護法).
Apple Online, the sister Web site of Hong Kong’s now defunct Apple Daily newspaper, said on Wednesday last week that it has been sold and the handover completed.
The change of ownership has prompted concern from critics, who said the government should ensure that Apple Online does not fall into the hands of foreign owners backed by Chinese capital.
Photo: Wen Yu-te, Taipei Times
Joseph Phua (潘杰賢), a Singaporean entrepreneur who co-founded 17LIVE, a giant Asian live-streaming platform, and Hong Kong businessman Kenny Wee (黃浩) are the company’s new owners, the Chinese-language Hong Kong daily Ming Pao said.
Union convener Lai Chung-chiang (賴中強) yesterday went to the Shilin District Prosecutors’ Office in Taipei and requested an investigation into suspected breaches of the Personal Data Protection Act by Apple Online CEO Wu Yu-ai (吳玉愛) and chief financial officer Johnny Chern (諶讚鑫).
Lai said the Ministry of Culture last year issued two injunctions regarding the company’s sale: one requiring it to refuse a court order and a request by Hong Kong authorities regarding financial matters and private information; and another prohibiting cross-border transfers of its database and personal information.
All supervisors and board members at the company quit last year, as well as most Taiwanese executives and managers, Lai said, adding that Wu is in charge of operations.
However, Wu told workers’ union representatives that she has no authority regarding the handling of the sale, Lai added.
Lai said that the people negotiating the deal are likely Hong Kong citizens Kenny Tam (譚競正) and Man King-shing (文景城), whom a Hong Kong court appointed to liquidate the Apple Daily and its news magazine holdings.
“The Taiwanese government does not accept the ruling by the Hong Kong court, and does not recognize the people who were appointed to handle the liquidation. Taiwan never approved entry by Tam and Man to carry out the liquidation and assess the company’s financial details, so how were they able to conduct and finalize the NT$1.5 billion [US$50.43 million] deal from outside Taiwan?” Lai asked.
The deal would naturally involve the transfer of the company’s records on employees’ personal information, monthly wage payments, list of debtors and business accounts, Lai said.
The most valuable is the company’s internal database on its news gathering and media work over the years, containing a large amount of personal information about reporters, interviewees, politicians, government officials, business leaders, writers and contributors, he added.
It is therefore very likely that someone in Taiwan has broken the law by allowing the transfer of this information, Lai said, adding that Wu and Chern are likely responsible, as they are in charge of operations.
The judiciary has been asked to investigate whether they had broken the Personal Data Protection Act, Lai said.
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