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I. Legal Framework

Constitutional privacy framework

Article 12 of the 1946 Republic of China Constitution states, "The people shall have freedom of privacy of correspondence."1 Additionally, the Constitution protects many rights that have an impact on privacy, such as free exercise of religion (Article 13) and freedom of association (Article 14).2

Data protection framework

The most important statutory privacy provision in Taiwan is the Computer-Processed Personal Data Protection Law, enacted in August 1995.3 The Act governs the collection and use of personally identifiable information by government agencies and many areas of the private sector. It requires that "[t]he collection or utilization of personal data shall respect the rights and interests of the principal and such personal data shall be handled in accordance with the principles of honesty and credibility so as not to exceed the scope of the specific purpose."4 Individuals have a right of access to and correction of their data, the ability to request cessation of computerized processing and use, and the ability to request deletion of their data. Data flows to countries without privacy laws can be prohibited, and damages can be assessed for violations. The Act also establishes separate principles for eight categories of private institutions: credit information organizations, hospitals, schools, telecommunications businesses, financial businesses, securities businesses, insurance businesses, and mass media, as well as "other enterprises, organizations, or individuals designated by the Ministry of Justice and the central government authorities in charge of concerned end enterprises."5

Numerous scandals involving leaks of personal information from government and private entities to crime syndicates have resulted in calls for lawmakers to strengthen the law.6 The Cabinet approved a draft amendment that would significantly increase the maximum penalty for those who release personal data. If approved, violators would face a possibility of five years imprisonment or a fine of TWD one million (~USD 31,700).7 The draft also broadens the definition of personal information and the scope of protection, adding medical care, genetic, physical examination, criminal record information and sexual behavior.8

Supervisory Authorities

There is no single privacy oversight body to enforce the Act. The Ministry of Justice enforces the Act for government agencies.9 For the private sector, the relevant government agency for that sector enforces compliance.