Thailand – Asia’s strong new data protection law

The law which will enter into force in May 2020 includes many GDPR-informed principles, but also some omissions. By Graham Greenleaf and Arthit Suriyawongkul.

A military coup in 2014 imposed a junta government in Thailand. In February 2019, three weeks before the first general elections since the coup, this government enacted a data privacy law to override an old and ineffective law applying only to the public sector. A military-backed party now leads a coalition government with a Prime Minister and Cabinet ­members from the previous military government, and an appointed upper house.

Most of the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA)(1) does not come into force until 28 May 2020, a year after it was gazetted, but some provisions concerning the data protection authority are in force during this interim period. The PDPA is based on a GDPR-influenced Bill proposed in May 2018,(2) but it has many differences from that Bill. The Act establishes a Personal Data Protection Committee (PDPC) and an Office to act on its behalf.

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