Taipei violated callers’ rights, advisers say

A lawyer said that although the recordings were obtained legally, the city broke the law by giving the people’s personal data to a software company.

  • By Cheng Ming-hsiang, Kao Chia-ho and William Hetherington / Staff Journalists, with a staff writer

The Taipei city government gave recordings of residents’ phone calls to a private company, violating callers’ rights, two city councilors said yesterday.

Taipei city councilors Miao Po-ya (苗博雅), of the Democratic Progressive Party, and Wu Pei-yi (吳沛憶), of the Social Democratic Party, said the recordings were the callers’ voiceprints and provided them to artificial intelligence software developer without their permission violated their rights.

The contract the city had with the company as part of Taipei’s “smart city” development did not include penalties for mismanaging records, councilors said, as they called on the city government. city ​​to temporarily suspend the project.

Photo: Taipei Times file photo

Taipei City Research, Development and Evaluation Commission Director Chen Tsung-heng (陳宗亨) said the city informs callers that it is recording the call, but does not inform them that the recordings are handed over to a contractor.

How the information is handled was determined after work on the project began and has not yet been reviewed by the Taipei Legal Affairs Department, he said.

Taipei City Information Technology Department Director Lu Hsin-ko (呂新科) said the project aims to improve the helpline and the city will re-evaluate its records management and consult. experts.

The National Development Council said yesterday that under Article 28 of the Personal Data Protection Law (個人資料保護法), government agencies that unlawfully collect, process or use people’s personal information are required to pay compensation.

Further investigation is needed to determine whether the city government broke the law, the council added.

Lawyer Lin Yao-chen (林曜辰) said that although the recordings were obtained legally, the city broke the law by giving people’s personal data to a contractor and would generally be required to compensate people whose calls were badly treated.

However, as the identities of the callers are unknown, compensation is unlikely, he added.

Lin urged the city government to change its procedures to prevent the situation from happening again and to set clear terms in the company’s contract regarding the handling of the recordings, including penalties for their misuse.

Even if the callers could not be identified, the project would have to be halted, Miao said, adding that recordings of around 1,400 people had been sent to the contractor.

Additional reporting by Yang Kuo-wen

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Margie D. Carlisle