After remaining as drafts for more than 20 years largely due to the resistance from business sectors, last year the Personal Data Protection Act was finally approved by the National Legislation Assembly of Thailand (the legislative body under military regime after 2014 coup). Under anxiety and confusion, several sectors are preparing to comply with this new law which will be effective in May 2020. This seminar will address the observed influences of transnational standards and examine the following questions. Is legal diffusion different in the context of digital law? What are the local conditions of successful legal reception? Can a law received through market-driven motivation become tool for human rights protection or democratisation?
Among transnational standards on data protection and privacy, the EU’s General Data Protection (GDPR) was the most important and undoubtedly changed the dynamic in Thai legislative process. Though GDPR was developed to secure European citizens’ rights by providing legal tools for users to bargain with companies (particularly multinational tech giants), it may extraterritorially enhance digital freedom of citizens in developing countries when facing not only data-driven business but also governmental authorities. The EU’s normative power reaching outside Europe has been widely discussed in the context of democratisation and human rights protection. The EU norm intended to give effects inside EU may lead to “the race to the top” for the worldwide connected digital regulation. The economic law may be instrumentally used to enrich fundamental rights protection. This seminar will also touch upon potential problems of implementation such as misinterpretation of legal principles, mismatch with related local rules, wrong assumptions of different legal culture, which are typical issues found in case of legal transplant.