Review of Taiwan's Existing Regulations on the Access to Bioloical Resources

The activities of accessing to Taiwan's biological resources can be governed within certain extent described as follows.

1 、 Certain Biological Resources Controlled by Regulations

Taiwan's existing regulation empowers the government to control the access to biological resources within certain areas or specific species. The National Park Law, the Forestry Act, and the Cultural Heritage Preservation Act indicate that the management authority can control the access of animals and plants inside the National Park, the National Park Control Area, the recreational area, the historical monuments, special scenic area, or ecological protection area; forbid the logging of plants and resources within the necessary control area for logging and preserved forestry, or control the biological resources inside the natural preserved area. In terms of the scope of controlled resources, according to the guidance of the Wildlife Conservation Act and the Cultural Heritage Preservation Act, governmental management authority is entitled to forbid the public to access the general and protected wild animals and the plant and biological resources that are classified as natural monuments.

To analyse the regulation from another viewpoint, any access to resources in areas and of species other than the listed, such as wild plants or microorganism, is not regulated. Therefore, in terms of scope, Taiwan's management of the access to biological resources has not covered the whole scope.

2 、 Access Permit and Entrance Permit

Taiwan's current management of biological resources adopts two kinds of schemes: access permit scheme and entrance permit in specific areas. The permit allows management authority to have the power to grant and reject the collection, hunting, or other activities to access resources by people. This scheme is similar to the international standard.

The current management system for the access to biological resources promoted by many countries and international organizations does not usually cover the guidance of entrance in specific areas. This is resulting from that the scope of the regulation about access applies for the whole nation. However, since Taiwan has not developed regulations specifically for the access of bio-research resources, the import/export regulations in the existing Wildlife Conservation Act, National Park Law, Forestry Act, and Cultural Heritage Preservation Act may provide certain help if these regulations be properly connected with the principle of access and benefit sharing model, so that they will help to urge people to share the research interests.

3 、 Special Treatments for Academic Research Purpose and Aborigines

Comparing to the access for the purpose of business operation, Taiwan's regulations favour the research and development that contains collection and hunting for the purpose of academic researches. The regulation gives permits to the access to biological resources for the activities with nature of academic researches. For instance, the Wildlife Conservation Act, National Park Law, and theCultural Heritage Preservation Act allow the access of regulated biological resources, if the academic research unit obtains the permit, or simply inform the management authority.

In addition, the access by the aborigines is also protected by the Forestry Act, Cultural Heritage Preservation Act, and the Aboriginal Basic Act. The aborigines have the right to freely access to biological resources such as plants, animals and fungi.

4 、 The Application of Prior Informed Consent (PIC)

In topics of the access to and benefit sharing of biological resources, the PIC between parties of interests has been the focus of international regulation. Similarly, when Taiwan was establishing theAboriginal Basic Act, this regulation was included to protect the aborigines' rights to be consulted, to agree, to participate and to share the interests. This conforms to the objective of access and benefit sharing system.

5 、 To Research and Propose the Draft of Genetic Resources Act

The existing Wildlife Conservation Act, National Park Law, Forestry Act,Cultural Heritage Preservation Act, Aboriginal Basic Act provide the regulation guidance to the management of the access to biological resources within certain scope. Comparing to the international system of access and benefit sharing, Taiwan's regulation covers only part of the international guidance. For instance, Taiwan has no regulation for the management of wild plants and micro-organism, so there is no regulation to confine the access to wild plants and microorganism. To enlarge the scope of management in terms of the access to Taiwan's biological resources, the government authority has authorize the related scholars to prepare the draft of Genetic Resources Act.

The aim of the Genetic Resources Act is to establish the guidance of the access of genetic resources and the sharing of interests in order to preserve the genetic resources. The draft regulates that the bio-prospecting activity should be classified into business and academic, with the premise of not interfering the traditional usages.

After classification, application of the permit should be conducted via either general or express process. During the permit application, the prospector, the management authority, and the owner of the prospected land should conclude an agreement jointly. In the event that the prospector wishes to apply for intellectual property rights, the prospector should disclose the origin of the genetic resources and provide the legally effective documents of obtaining these resources. In addition, a Biodiversity Fund should be established to manage the profits derived from genetic resources. The import/export of genetic resources should also be regulated. Violators should be fined.

※Review of Taiwan's Existing Regulations on the Access to Bioloical Resources,STLI, https://stli.iii.org.tw/en/article-detail.aspx?no=105&tp=2&i=168&d=6137 (Date:2024/06/23)
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[1]American Medical Association [AMA], Commercial Use of Human Biological Materials, Code of Medical Ethics Opinion 7.3.9, Nov. 14, 2016, https://www.ama-assn.org/delivering-care/ethics/commercial-use-human-biological-materials (last visited Jan. 3, 2021). [2]Moore v. Regents of University of California, 793 P.2d 479 (Cal. 1990) [3]Greenberg v. Miami Children's Hospital Research Institute, 264 F. Suppl. 2d, 1064 (SD Fl. 2003) [4]Washington University v. Catalona, 490 F 3d 667 (8th Cir. 2007) [5]Medical Research Council [MRC], Human Tissue and Biological Samples for Use in Research: Operational and Ethical Guidelines, 2019, https://mrc.ukri.org/publications/browse/human-tissue-and-biological-samples-for-use-in-research/ (last visited Jan. 3, 2021). [6]Wen-Hui Chiu, The legal entitlement of human body, tissue and derivatives in civil law, Angle Publishing, 2016, at 327. [7]id, at 341. [8]Okano, M., Takebayashi, S., Okumura, K., Li, E., Gaudray, P., Carle, G. F., & Bliek, J. UKCCCR guidelines for the use of cell lines in cancer research.Cytogenetic and Genome Research,86(3-4), 1999, https://europepmc.org/backend/ptpmcrender.fcgi?accid=PMC2363383&blobtype=pdf (last visited Jan. 3, 2021).

Executive Yuan Yuan Promoted “Productivity 4.0” to Boost Global Competitiveness

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The former can also be called “private chains” or “alliance chains” or “enterprise chains”, that means no one can join the blockchain without consent. The latter can also be called “public chains”, which means that anyone can participate on chain without obtaining consent.   Sometimes, private chain is not completely decentralized. The demand for the use of blockchain has developed a hybrid of two types of blockchain, called “alliance chain”, which not only maintains the privacy of the private chain, but also maintains the characteristics of public chains. The information on the alliance chain will be open and transparent, and it is in conflict with the application of GDPR. III. How to GDPR apply to blockchain ?   First, it should be determined whether the data on the blockchain is personal data protected by GDPR. Second, what is the relationship and respective responsibilities of the data subject, data controller, and data processor? Finally, we discuss the common technical characteristics of blockchain and how it is applicable to GDPR. 1. Data on the blockchain is personal data protected by GDPR?   First of all, starting from the technical characteristics of the blockchain, blockchain technology is commonly decentralized, anonymous, immutable, trackable and encrypted. The other five major characteristics are immutability, authenticity, transparency, uniqueness, and collective consensus.   Further, the blockchain is an open, decentralized ledger technology that can effectively verify and permanently store transactions between two parties, and can be proved.   It is a distributed database, all users on the chain can access to the database and the history record, also can directly verify transaction records. Each nodes use peer-to-peer transmission for upload or transfer information without third-party intermediation, which is the unique “decentralization” feature of the blockchain.   In addition, the node or any user on the chain has a unique and identifiable set of more than 30 alphanumeric addresses, but the user may choose to be anonymous or provide identification, which is also a feature of transparency with pseudonymity[2]; Data on blockchain is irreversibility of records. Once the transaction is recorded and updated on the chain, it is difficult to change and is permanently stored in the database, that is to say, it has the characteristics of “tamper-resistance”[3].   According to Article 4 (1) of the GDPR, “personal data” means any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person (‘data subject’); an identifiable natural person is one who can be identified, directly or indirectly, in particular by reference to an identifier such as a name, an identification number, location data, an online identifier or to one or more factors specific to the physical, physiological, genetic, mental, economic, cultural or social identity of that natural person.   Therefore, if data subject cannot be identified by the personal data on the blockchain, that is an anonymous data, excluding the application of GDPR. (1) What is Anonymization?   According to Opinion 05/2014 on Anonymization Techniques by Article 29 Data Protection Working Party of the European Union, “anonymization” is a technique applied to personal data in order to achieve irreversible de-identification[4].   And it also said the “Hash function” of blockchain is a pseudonymization technology, the personal data is possible to be re-identified. Therefore it’s not an “anonymization”, the data on the blockchain may still be the personal data stipulated by the GDPR.   As the blockchain evolves, it will be possible to develop technologies that are not regulated by GDPR, such as part of the encryption process, which will be able to pass the court or European data protection authorities requirement of anonymization. There are also many compliance solutions which use technical in the industry, such as avoiding transaction data stored directly on the chain. 2. International data transmission   Furthermore, in accordance with Article 3 of the GDPR, “This Regulation applies to the processing of personal data in the context of the activities of an establishment of a controller or a processor in the Union, regardless of whether the processing takes place in the Union or not. This Regulation applies to the processing of personal data of data subjects who are in the Union by a controller or processor not established in the Union, where the processing activities are related to: (a) the offering of goods or services, irrespective of whether a payment of the data subject is required, to such data subjects in the Union; or (b) the monitoring of their behaviour as far as their behaviour takes place within the Union”.[5]   In other words, GDPR applies only when the data on the blockchain is not anonymized, and involves the processing of personal data of EU citizens. 3. Identification of data controllers and data processors   Therefore, if the encryption technology involves the public storage of EU citizens' personal data and passes it to a third-party controller, it may be identified as the “data controller” under Article 4 of GDPR, and all nodes and miners of the platform may be deemed as the “co-controller” of the data, and be assumed joint responsibility with the data controller by GDPR. For example, the parties can claim the right to delete data from the data controller.   In addition, a blockchain operator may be identified as a “processor”, for example, Backend as a Service (BaaS) products, the third parties provide network infrastructure for users, and let users manage and store personal data. Such Cloud Services Companies provide online services on behalf of customers, do not act as “data controllers”. Some commentators believe that in the case of private chains or alliance chains, such as land records transmission, inter-bank customer information sharing, etc., compared to public chain applications: such as cryptocurrencies (Bitcoin for example), is not completely decentralized, and more likely to meet GDPR requirements[6]. For example, in the case of a private chain or alliance chain, it is a closed platform, which contains only a small number of trusted nodes, is more effective in complying with the GDPR rules. 4. Data subject claims   In accordance with Article 17 of the GDPR, The data subject shall have the right to obtain from the controller the erasure of personal data concerning him or her without undue delay and the controller shall have the obligation to erase personal data without undue delay under some grounds.   Off-chain storage technology can help the blockchain industry comply with GDPR rules, allowing offline storage of personal data, or allow trusted nodes to delete the private key of encrypted information, which leaving data that cannot be read and identified on the chain. If the data is in accordance with the definition of anonymization by GDPR, there is no room for GDPR to be applied. IV. Conclusion   In summary, it’s seem that the application of blockchain to GDPR may include: (a) being difficulty to identified the data controllers and data processors after the data subject upload their data. (b) the nature of decentralized storage is transnational storage, and Whether the country where the node is located, is meets the “adequacy decision” of Article 45 of the GDPR.   If it cannot be met, then it needs to consider whether it conforms to the transfers subject to appropriate safeguards of Article 46, or the derogations for specific situations of Article 49 of the GDPR. Reference: [1] How to Trade Cryptocurrency: A Guide for (Future) Millionaires, https://wikijob.com/trading/cryptocurrency/how-to-trade-cryptocurrency [2] DONNA K. HAMMAKER, HEALTH RECORDS AND THE LAW 392 (5TH ED. 2018). [3] Iansiti, Marco, and Karim R. Lakhani, The Truth about Blockchain, Harvard Business Review 95, no. 1 (January-February 2017): 118-125, available at https://hbr.org/2017/01/the-truth-about-blockchain [4] Article 29 Data Protection Working Party, Opinion 05/2014 on Anonymisation Techniques (2014), https://www.pdpjournals.com/docs/88197.pdf [5] Directive 95/46/EC (General Data Protection Regulation), https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/HTML/?uri=CELEX:32016R0679&from=EN [6] Queen Mary University of London, Are blockchains compatible with data privacy law? https://www.qmul.ac.uk/media/news/2018/hss/are-blockchains-compatible-with-data-privacy-law.html

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