The government-proposed cyber security law was yesterday approved at its first reading at the Legislative Assembly plenary session, with just three lawmakers opposed – Pereira Coutinho, Sulu Sou and Ng Kuok Cheong.
Under the new law, private and public institutions in some sectors will be required to introduce and enforce select cyber security measures. These sectors include media and communication operators, banking and finance, as well as operators in the gambling industry.
According to its proponents, the bill aims to bolster the security of the city’s information technology infrastructure, in part by monitoring communications for the purpose of detecting any irregularities in the flow of data.
But critics warn that the now- approved law will enable the government to violate individual freedoms under the guise of security-related concerns.
They say that the provisions of the law may allow police authorities to abuse the system and arbitrarily monitor the content of electronic data and communications.
The government argues that the new bill will not contravene existing data protection and privacy laws in Macau. Secretary for Security Wong Sio Chak said yesterday that cyber authorities will only be permitted to access the personal data of individuals after the relevant judicial authorization has been granted.
The Secretary previously said that the cyber security law will not lead to the government monitoring online content.
Also yesterday, the Legislative Assembly approved a bill granting new powers to the Public Security Police Force, with only lawmaker Sulu Sou voting against on the basis of it being a missed “opportunity to revise the oversight of the PSP.”
Later in the plenary session, the Assembly also approved new offshore regulations that follow the guidelines issued by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. Offshore institutions will only be allowed to have special tax-free status and stamp duty exemptions until June 2021.