Macau’s Data Policy

data macau

Macau is a special administrative region of China, with its own legislation and tax system. At the United Nations, it is listed as a dependent territory of China, but it has its own police force, customs and immigration services and even has Portuguese as one of its official languages.

The territory is making a significant push towards becoming a smart city, with four cornerstones: smart tourism, smart transportation, smart healthcare and smart government. The implementation of these cornerstones will require a great deal of data, but the challenge is not just the quantity of that data, it is the quality of the data and how the data will be used to create value for citizens and businesses alike.

To address the challenges, there is a need for the development of a data policy that will provide a clear set of rules for the use of personal information in various sectors. This includes establishing the appropriate legal basis for the processing of personal data, providing a better definition of what constitutes personal information and what is meant by processing it, and defining the principles for the handling of the data.

According to the law, any processing of personal data should be carried out transparently and with strict compliance with privacy rights. Moreover, the data collected should be processed only for specific and determined purposes that are directly related to the activities of the data controllers or processors. In addition, the data cannot be kept for longer than is necessary for the purpose of collecting it.

The legal framework of Macau’s Personal Data Protection Act was heavily inspired by European Union legislation, and the majority of its provisions were taken from Portugal’s Law No 68/98 of 26 October on the Protection of Personal Data (only available in Portuguese here). The act was further developed through a series of legislative measures introduced in 2021.

Among them was the creation of a new regulation on the use of data for marketing purposes, which stipulates that any commercial communication involving personal information may only be conducted with the express consent of the person to whom the data pertains. In addition, it requires data controllers to obtain a valid personal identification number (PIN) for anyone who wishes to receive direct marketing communications from them.

As for the future, interviews with various local stakeholders suggest a strong desire to promote further economic integration. However, there are also concerns that too much integration could lead to the loss of the distinctive characteristics of the Macanese culture.

As a result, there are plans to further enhance the legal system and the institutional support for the data economy by developing an open government platform and improving public awareness about the benefits of using data. Moreover, there is a strong will for the Macau SAR Government to take a leadership role in the area of data. This is reflected in the recent launch of the Macau SAR Government Open Data Platform, which aims to bring together various open data from public departments.