Singapore and Hong Kong boost cooperation on personal data protection

Hong Kong's Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data and Singapore's Personal Data Protection Commission will share their knowledge on data breaches to better prepare for a digital economy.
Hong Kong's Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data and Singapore's Personal Data Protection Commission will share their knowledge on data breaches to better prepare for a digital economy.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - Singapore and Hong Kong have strengthened their collaboration on personal data protection, and will share their knowledge on data breaches to better prepare for a digital economy.

With the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU), Hong Kong's Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data (PCPD) and Singapore's Personal Data Protection Commission (PDPC) will engage in the cross-sharing of experiences, exchange of best practices, joint research projects, and information exchange involving potential or ongoing data breach investigations, both authorities said in a joint statement on Friday (May 31).

Singapore's PDPC is set up within the Infocomm Media Development Authority of Singapore, and plays the main role in administering and enforcing the Personal Data Protection Act in Singapore.

The MOU was signed by Mr Stephen Wong, Hong Kong's privacy commissioner for personal data, and Mr Yeong Zee Kin, deputy commissioner of Singapore's PDPC, at the 51st Asia Pacific Privacy Authorities Forum held in Tokyo.

Said Mr  Tan Kiat How, commissioner of Singapore's PDPC: "A strong collaborative effort with our counterparts in Hong Kong and other jurisdictions is needed to advance personal data protection and prepare for a digital economy. We look forward to strengthening our working relations to enable all parties to collectively benefit from best practices, research and the sharing of information."

Added Mr Wong: "The MOU marks the joint efforts of Hong Kong and Singapore in strengthening the cooperation between the two jurisdictions, and provides a solid framework for promoting collaborative initiatives and information exchange in personal data protection. It also clearly demonstrates the PCPD's strong commitment to stepping up cross-jurisdictional collaboration in exchange of expertise and information, so as to better prepare Hong Kong to enter into the new 'post-digital' era."

This MOU was the outcome of an initial discussion between the two authorities in September 2018.

 
 
 
 

It also comes after both nations had instances of data breaches in recent years.

Lapses in Singapore included the SingHealth data breach where hackers stole the personal data of 1.5 million patients, the leak of HIV patient data, and the personal information of blood donors being improperly placed online by an IT vendor.

Meanwhile in Hong Kong, its flag carrier Cathay Pacific disclosed a data breach that exposed the personal information of up to 9.4 million passengers last October.

As part of the enhanced cooperation, Hong Kong and Singapore are also releasing a jointly developed guide to data protection by design for ICT (info-communications and technology) systems.

This encourages organisations to proactively incorporate data protection considerations when developing ICT systems from the onset, the authorities said. The guide is now available for download at www.PCPD.org.hk and www.PDPC.gov.sg.