Data-sharing framework guides Singapore in uncertain digital economy

People at a pedestrian crossing in the Central Business District after office hours.
People at a pedestrian crossing in the Central Business District after office hours.PHOTO: ST FILE

While the Trusted Data Sharing Framework gives industry players guidance and confidence to use and share data responsibly, the sinister dimension may be with foreign social media companies and tech giants.

In Singapore, frameworks and compliant regulations can be guided or authoritatively enforced due to our rule of law. The Government is also not beholden to major corporations.

When businesses operate in areas without established legislation and if they are found to affect social norms and harmony, the authorities may step in. We can be confident that businesses would work with the Government and address any concerns.

But not so with some of the big corporations, as we have seen in recent years in other jurisdictions.

For example, Facebook has been cavalier with its platform users with regard to data-sharing and privacy infringements. It claimed that consent had been sought and that the onus is on users to read terms and conditions. We are aware of how obscure these so-called consent processes can be.

Investigations have also revealed that Facebook skirted around users' privacy in sharing data with external parties, such as Cambridge Analytica.

The damage caused by fake news spread via Facebook during the US presidential election in 2016 has been widely reported.

As a society, we have to move forward as we march towards a digital economy. It is difficult to look into the crystal ball and predict how trends will pan out. But we can learn from others and adapt their actions for our own use .

The framework is a good aid as we navigate and discover the unknown.

Tan Kar Quan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 04, 2019, with the headline 'Data-sharing framework guides Singapore in uncertain digital economy'. Print Edition | Subscribe