Data privacy is a topic receiving much attention nowadays in all sectors including the agriculture sector. Due to the impacts of digitalisation which have led to the evolution of social media and the advanced use of big data, individuals have less control over their personal data and need to be empowered to acknowledge how, by whom and why their personal data is being used. Currently, data protection laws are being enforced around the world with the purpose of empowering individuals’ control over their personal data. Thailand is soon going to enforce the Personal Data Protection Act 2562 B.E. (2019) (PDPA). It aims to protect the security of the collected data which can be used to identify any individual. When this Act is enforced, there will be rules and regulations for both Data Controller and Data Processor. Therefore, organisations, government agencies or companies that handle personal data must prepare and revise their practices accordingly.
What is the Personal Data Protection Act 2562 B.E. (2019) (PDPA)? The Personal Data Protection Act 2562 B.E. (2019) (PDPA) was announced in the Government Gazette on May 27, 2019. The original plan was to enforce this act on May 27, 2020. However, it was first postponed to June 1, 2021. The Cabinet subsequently approved the issuance of a royal decree to extend the preparation period for another 1 year. Therefore, the full enforcement of this act will begin on June 1, 2022. This Act is a collection of various Thai laws and regulations on data privacy in the past. This legislative process is supervised by the Office of the Personal Data Protection Commission, Ministry of Digital Economy and Society. The data privacy act defines the rights to the owner of data and imposes penalties for wrongdoings. Violators will be imprisoned for up to 1 year and/or fined a maximum of 5,000,000 THB.
Exchange on Personal Data Protection The Thai-German Climate Programme – Agriculture project recognises the importance of data protection. The Personal Data Protection Workshop was held online, to raise awareness of personal data protection for Thai rice researchers and officials of the Rice Department. Dr. Atthawit Watcharapongchai, Director of the Market Oriented Small Holder Value Chain (MSVC-TH) project was the guest speaker at this event. The discussion topics in his session included:
1) interpretation of the Personal Data Protection Act 2562 B.E. (2019) (PDPA)
2) how to deal with data privacy issues in interacting work with farmers and in collaboration with both public and private sectors, and
3) the rights and duties of data workers.
The 12 participants joining the session also learned how to distinguish personal data from non-personal data (e.g., farming practices and GHG emissions data etc.) and were informed about the principles of the Personal Data Protection Act 2562 B.E. (2019) (PDPA) and data security practices, particularly personal data of farmers and other collaborating partners. This workshop aimed to enable proper and more concise data operation practices in the future.
Dr. AtthawitWatcharapongchai, Director of the Market Oriented Small Holder Value Chain (MSVC-TH) project said: “In their cooperation, both partners and GIZ must consider and take care throughout the data handling process related to personal data and must be careful in both the back and forth of data flow. GIZ currently adheres to both the Personal Data Protection Act 2562 B.E. (2019) (PDPA) of Thailand and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) of the European Union (EU). Many countries actively pay attention to personal data protection.”
Like other sectors, many of the activities in the agriculture sector are related to personal data, such as the collection of farmers’ personal and cultivation data, processing data for agricultural research as well as establishing a farmer database. The participants learned in this workshop the principles and importance of personal data protection. The knowledge that they received from this exchange can be applied to their work to increase the potential for handling sensitive data in the future.