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Asia Pacific Dashboard Digest | Notes from the Asia-Pacific region, 13 March 2020 Related reading: Notes from the Asia-Pacific region, 2 June 2023


Dear privacy pros,

Around the time my Hong Kong counterpart published his insightful piece about the impact COVID-19 has had on privacy and security last week, the IAPP made the difficult decision to postpone the IAPP Data Protection Intensive: UK 2020 that was slated to take place in London 9-12 March. This week the IAPP made another difficult decision and canceled the IAPP Global Privacy Summit 2020 slated to take place 5-8 April. For immediate answers, an FAQ page is available here.

At this time, preparations for the IAPP Asia Privacy Forum 2020 are proceeding as planned. It looks like we will be able to deliver another blockbuster event in Singapore based on how the agenda is shaping up, but of course the situation remains fluid. Please rest assured that we are closely monitoring developments and will take appropriate measures to safeguard the well-being of our members and delegates.

I have come across a number of articles about the use of innovative technologies such as AI and facial recognition in the fight against the COVID-19 virus. Some of these, such as the use of big data and machine learning to perform contact tracing or predict the spread of the virus, sound fairly innocuous. Some, like the use of facial recognition to identify patients or the use of drones to monitor temperature or supervise the use of face masks, may potentially be problematic without the appropriate privacy safeguards. There are also reports of novel uses of technology such as personal QR codes as an indicator of risk of infection and apps to help concerned citizens map out and avoid possible areas of infection. These probably fall somewhere in the middle. IAPP Editorial Director Jedidiah Bracy also wrote about balancing individual privacy with the public interest in light of the COVID-19 breakout.

In other news, there have been a number of significant data breaches recently. These range from the incorrectly configured Virgin Media database that exposed personal data of up to 900,000 individuals, to the hacking of employee email accounts of Princess Cruises and Holland America over an extended period of time, to a series of six possible data breaches affecting health care organizations in the U.S. Even then, perhaps most concerning is the alleged breach affecting secret-sharing app Whisper, which may potentially allow hackers to connect an identifiable user with personal information that he or she wants most desperately to keep under wraps. Really goes to show that deep, dark secrets are just not meant to be shared.

Closer to home, Technisanct, a cybersecurity start-up based in India, announced that it has discovered a series of breaches affecting hundreds of thousands of credit cards issued by top banks in six Southeast Asian countries. The largest number of affected credit card holders came from the Philippines (172,828), but significant numbers came from Singapore (25,290) and Malaysia (37,145) as well. The information exposed included the CCV and PIN, which may potentially put the credit card holders at risk of financial loss.

Finally, there is an interesting article on the dashboard announcing the results of The Verge Tech Survey 2020. The first edition of this survey was conducted in the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election in the U.S., so it is really interesting to see how public perception of Big Tech companies has changed in the lead up to another presidential campaign.

With that, I wish you happy reading and the best of health!


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