The Department of Justice issued the Fa-Lu-10703500080 Circular of February 12, 2018 (hereinafter, the “Circular”) to communicate that when handling an administrative enforcement case, if the enforcer can no longer identify the whereabouts of the obligor by other means, it may be deemed necessary, to the extent that the principle of proportionality is observed, to collect information such as the contact address and telephone number provided to a medical institution by the obligor when medical attention was sought.
According to this Circular, if the enforcer, in handling an administrative enforcement case, can no longer identify the whereabouts of the obligor by other means, it should be deemed necessary, to the extent that the principle of proportionality under Article 5 of the Personal Data Protection Law (hereinafter, the “Law”) is observed, to collect information such as the contact address and telephone number provided to a medical institution after learning that the obligor has sought medical attention in such medical institution. Within the scope of necessity in discharging the statutory responsibility of a branch office of the Administrative Enforcement Agency, the enforcer’s retrieval and investigation of the contact address and telephone number of the obligor from the medical institution meet the requirements under Article 15, Subparagraph 1 of the Law. With respect to medical institutions (including public and private medical institutions) subject to the investigation, the provision of such personal information to the enforcer can be deemed in compliance with Subparagraph 2 in the proviso of Article 16 and Subparagraph 2 in the proviso of Paragraph 1 of Article 20 of the Law and is not subject to the circumstance of “unjustified disclosure” under Article 72 of the Medical Care Law.
It was further pointed out in this Circular that under the circumstance that the current caseload exceeds 10 million cases, only cases involving larger amounts which have been referred for compulsory enforcement can be chosen. In view of the fact that in 2017, a total of 14,972,286 cases were accepted by various branch offices of the Administrative Enforcement Agency and 583 letters were issued by such branch offices to medical institutions to inquire about the above information only with respect to cases involving large outstanding amounts, which translate into a very low inquiry percentage (only 0.0000389%), such inquiry is absolutely the last resort after other channels of inquiry have been exhausted, meets the principles of proportionality and necessity, and is by no means unrestrained collection.
As for whether a medical institution may refuse to provide the personal information about patients to administrative enforcement agencies and whether there is any penalty for refusing to do so, currently Article 19, Paragraph 1 of the Compulsory Enforcement Law, which provides: “When it is necessary to investigate a matter subject to compulsory enforcement by the court, the court may order the creditor to investigate and submit information or may ex officio investigate,” applies mutatis mutandis to Article 26 of the Administrative Enforcement Law. In addition, Article 40 of the Administrative Enforcement Law provides: “An administrative agency may, out of the need to investigate facts and evidence, request a party or any third party to provide necessary documentation, materials or objects.” Since none of the above provisions imposes statutory obligations on third parties, there is no basis for penalizing those who refuse to provide such information except as otherwise stipulated under other laws or regulations.