Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Singapore moving closer to data protection law

Asian economic powerhouse Singapore is about two years away from a data protection law as the country moves through a consultation process toward that objective:


SINGAPORE: A committee that is looking at how to protect private information is expected to submit its report to the government next month.

Experts believe one of the key features of the upcoming data protection law is clamping down on private companies that collect and disseminate personal information freely.

Currently, when a person fills out their personal information on forms or lucky draw coupons, the companies will usually store the information in their databases and disseminate it without the person's knowledge or permission.

The upcoming law will likely make sure that that will not happen.

Experts believe the law may be ready in about 2 years.

"Data collectors would have to get your consent if they're going to use it for direct marketing and if you discover that your particulars are being used by direct marketing by a particular company, you'd have a right to go to the company and demand that they stop doing it. It's the sort of thing I could envisage in the legislation coming," said S Suressh, a partner at Harry Elias Partnership.

Singaporeans are increasingly using the internet to conduct transactions.

So it's timely for the government to study and develop laws to protect personal details.

"As we develop, there're more and more demands for rights and one of the rights is of course the right to privacy. So the government's probably decided that we have reached a certain level of development and that businesses can probably cope with the increased burden and cost of this," said Asst Prof Terence Tan from the Law Faculty at NUS.

The existing laws cover mainly government agencies such as the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore, requiring they protect your personal information.

But data collection and protection are unregulated among private companies, which will change with the coming of new laws. - CNA /dt

1 comment:

DP Blog said...

This is an interesting development. Whilst researching on data protection developments I was surprised that Singapore did not have data protection laws. The reason: According to one academic Singapore is a paternalistic state and does not have some of the problems that Western countries have ie. distrust of governments to hold personal information about individuals. However, there was a code, which is not legally binding that applies to the public sector.
What I did not understand was why Singapore did not feel that Art. 25 of the Data Protection Directive was relevant? This concerned on the transfer of personal data to countries outside the EEA? In any case, any progress towards the introduction of a data protection law is surely a positive step.