Christopher & Lee Ong Update: Determining the Extent of Inland Revenue Board’s Powers to Request for Disclosure of Personal Information: Genting Malaysia Berhad v Personal Data Protection Commissioner & Ors

Under the Income Tax Act 1967 (“ITA”), the Inland Revenue Board of Malaysia (“IRB”) has broad powers and tools to ensure effective collection of tax revenue for the Malaysian government. This includes wide information gathering powers such as those provided for under Section 81 of the ITA which empowers the Director General of the IRB (“DGIR”) to demand any person to disclose any information or particulars that is in the possession or control of the person for the purposes of the ITA.

The scope of the DGIR’s power to request information was recently tested in the case of Genting Malaysia Berhad v Personal Data Protection Commissioner & Ors (Case No. WA-25-83-02/2020), where the DGIR relied on Section 81 of the ITA to make a blanket demand for customers’ personal data from Genting Malaysia Berhad (“GMB”). The High Court in its decision ruled in favour of GMB and held that the Personal Data Protection Act 2010 (“PDPA”) does not allow the DGIR to make such demands in view of the protection afforded to individuals by the PDPA over their personal data.

This Update therefore seeks to provide a summary and brief analysis of the High Court case, and examine the potential impact of the High Court’s decision on organisations carrying out personal data processing activities under the PDPA.

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