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The revised Data Protection Bill now out



by Randima Attygalle

The Data Protection Bill which was presented to the Legal Draftsman’s Department for further amendments to some of the provisions in the original Draft Bill has been released.

The Information and Technology Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA) has announced that several changes have been made to the substantive provisions of the original Draft Bill including re-arrangement of key provisions. The changes were based on the feedback of a number of stakeholders including the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, Attorney General’s Department and the Ministry of Justice.

The Chair of the Data Protection Drafting Committee and the Legal Advisor to ICTA, Jayantha Fernando notes that, further amendments to the Bill are, however, possible once the Draft Bill is presented to the Cabinet and published as a Bill.

The original Draft Bill was reviewed by the Attorney General (AG) for compliance with Article 77 of the Constitution and the preliminary observations of AG received by the Drafting Committee in July last year. The Drafting Committee’s responses to AG’s observations were also reviewed by the Independent Review Panel, Chaired by Justice K. T. Chitrasiri and this response was sent to the AG and the Legal Draftsman in October. This was followed by several consultations between the Legal Draftsman’s Department and the Drafting Committee, through November and December last year.

The draft legislation defines ‘data’ as ‘any data by which an individual is identifiable and this includes name, an identification number, location data and also factors specific to the physical, physiological, genetic, psychological, economic, cultural or social identify of an individual’. Data protection is the right of a person to ensure that their personal data is not used, exchanged or even maintained without their knowledge.

The draft legislation Fernando told the Sunday Island imposes several obligations on those who collect and process personal data (‘Controllers’ and ‘Processors’). A new set of rights is also given to citizens under this new legislation, which are known as ‘Rights of data subjects’.

“For instance, personal data could be collected only for a specified purpose and not for any other purpose that is incompatible with the said purposes. However, processing data in public interest, scientific or historical research will not be considered incompatible. Personal Data has to be processed in a manner to ensure appropriate security, including protection against accidental loss, destruction or damage,” explains Fernando.

Data Subject (individuals) will also have the right to withdraw his or her consent given to Controllers and will also have the right to rectify the data without undue delay. Further, the Data Subjects have been given the right to object to processing of their data. These rights of Data Subjects can be exercised directly by the individuals with the Controller.

In the modern digital era where data is often at risk, both at individual and organizational level, this legislation becomes very relevant in view of certain measures introduced in the latest version of the Bill, points out the senior legal expert.

“Accountability measures for processing of personal data are required by the law to be implemented by government departments, banks, telco’s, companies etc. as forming a self-regulatory mechanism, referred to as ‘Data Protection Management Programme in the Law. There is also the right of appeal by citizens to the Data Protection Authority against the decisions made by entities which refuse their requests under the Law.”

Requirement for ‘Data Protection Impact Assessments’ (DPIA) by those entities doing high risk processing, becomes relevant in the context of digital adoptions in different organizations where individual data is collected. The Bill also defines criteria for cloud hosting of data under the provisions governing cross-border data flows and includes safeguards when data is hosted out of the country. Furthermore, the Data Protection Authority is vested with powers to give directives to the government and the private sector entities processing personal data and impose penalties in the event of non-compliance. There is a right of appeal from these decisions to the Court of Appeal.

Although laws on data protection have been in force in many parts of the world for several years, data protection is still a new concept to us. The drafting Committee, as it Chair explains, has taken into account international best practices, such as the OECD Privacy Guidelines, APEC Privacy Framework, Council of Europe Data Protection Convention, EU General Data Protection Regulation and laws enacted in other jurisdictions such as the UK, Singapore, Australia and Mauritius. “We have also studied the laws enacted in the State of California as well as the Indian Bill, when formulating the draft legislation,” Fernando remarked.



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Six nabbed with over 100 kg of ‘Ice’



By Norman Palihawadane and Ifham Nizam

The Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB) yesterday arrested six suspects in the Sapugaskanda Rathgahawatta area with more than 100 kilos of Crystal Methamphetamine also known as Ice.

Police Media Spokesman, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Ajith Rohana told the media that the PNB sleuths, acting on information elicited from a suspect in custody had found 91 packets of Ice.

A man in possession of 100 kilos of heroin was arrested in Modera during the weekend and revealed that a haul of Ice had been packed in plastic boxes.

The PNB seized more than 114 kilos of Ice from the possession of a single drug network.

According to the information elicited from the suspects, more than 100 kilos of Ice were found.

The PNB also arrested six persons including two women with 13 kilos of Ice, during an operation carried out in the Niwandama area in Ja-Ela on Sunday.

DIG Rohana said the ice had been packed in small plastic boxes and hidden in two school bags.

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PM intervenes to iron out differences among coalition partners



By Norman Palihawadane

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday said that he was confident that differences among the constituents of the SLPP coalition as regards the May Day celebrations and the next Provincial Council elections could be ironed out soon.

Leaders of all SLPP allied parties have been invited to a special meeting to be held at Temple Trees with the PM presiding on April 19.

Prime Minister Rajapaksa said it was natural for members of a political alliance to have their own standpoints and views on matters of national importance. “This is due to the different political ideologies and identities. It is not something new when it comes to political alliances world over. In a way, it shows that there is internal democracy within our alliance.

The PM said: “As a result of that the allied parties may express their own views on issues, but that does not mean there is a threat to the unity of the alliance. An alliance is more vibrant and stronger not when all the parties think on the same lines but when the member parties have different ideologies.”

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Thilo Hoffman remembered



A copy of the book “Politics of a Rainforest: Battles to save Sinharaja” was handed over to Dominik Furgler, the Swiss Ambassador in Sri Lanka by the author of the book, Dr. Prasanna Cooray at the Swiss Embassy in Colombo last Tuesday, to be sent to the family of the late Thilo Hoffman in Switzerland.

Hoffman, a Swiss national, who made Sri Lanka his second home for six decades, was a pioneering environmental activist who led the battles to save Sinharaja from the front in the early 1970s, abreast with the likes of Iranganie Serasinghe, Kamanie Vitharana, Lynn De Alwis and Nihal Fernando of the “Ruk Rekaganno” fame. That was the era when the trees of Sinharaja were felled for the production of plywood by the then government. Hoffman was also a livewire of the Wildlife and Nature Protection Society (WNPS) for a long time. Hoffman died in 2014 at the age of 92.

The book includes a chapter on Thilo Hoffman.

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