Singapore: Tightening Data Protection Laws

Singapore has taken significant steps toward establishing a coherent data protection scheme.

The Ministry of Information, Communication and Arts (MICA) has established an online consultation platform in order to consolidate public feedback on data management and divulgence.

The window will be open until the 25th October for citizens to provide their verdict as to the scope of coverage the protection bill should cover. The idea of the new law is to curb the unnecessary use of personal data by businesses and to introduce stricter guidelines on disclosing personal information.

This is part of a wider gathering of consensus which includes the MICA seeking opinion on establishing a national “Do-Not-Call-Registry.” Such a process would mean that the public can register their numbers in order to make it known that they do not wish to be called by telemarketers, or short message services.

One key point which was first highlighted by Bryan Tan, director at Keystone Law was that the proposed data protection framework does not touch upon government use of public information. It will be interesting to see whether the government passes comment on this.

If the MICA goes ahead, the implementation would cut across all sectors with immediate effect and would protect customer’s personal data through regulating its use, disclosure, transfer and security.

There is likely to be a 1 to 2 year transitional period allowing companies to comply with the proposed data protection commission. Any which do not however may face fines up to $1 million.

“The MICA hopes to introduce a basic, broad based data protection law applicable to private organizations, to create a balance between the need to protect individuals’ personal data vis-à-vis the need for organisations to the use the data for legitimate and reasonable purposes,” the ministry stated.

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