High-level data security committee holds first meeting

SINGAPORE - A high-level committee tasked to review and strengthen data security practices across the entire public service held its first meeting on Thursday (April 18).

The Smart Nation and Digital Government Office (SNDGO) said the 10-member committee is chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, who is also Coordinating Minister for National Security and Minister-in-charge of Public Sector Data Governance.

The committee reviewed past data incidents and discussed the approaches adopted by other jurisdictions.

It also discussed broad approaches to raise data security, so that the Government can use data to deliver services and conduct planning and policy development.

The Public Sector Data Security Review Committee - convened by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong - will look into how data is collected and protected by agencies, vendors and authorised third parties, and recommend improvements.

It will submit its findings and recommendations to PM Lee by Nov 30.

The non-government members of the committee are chief scientific adviser for national security to the United Kingdom Government, Prof Anthony Finkelstein; chief information officer and managing director and head of group technology and operations of DBS Bank David Gledhill; former partner at KPMG Ho Wah Lee; chairman at Ensign Infosecurity Lee Fook Sun; and chief executive officer at health services provider Optum Sir Andrew Witty.

The SNDGO said they were chosen for their experience and expertise in how technology and data security are applied in their respective fields.

It was previously announced that the four ministers involved in Singapore's Smart Nation efforts will be part of the committee.

They are Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, who is Minister-in-charge of the Smart Nation Initiative; Communications and Information Minister S. Iswaran, who is the Minister-in-Charge of Cyber Security; Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing, who is Minister-in-charge of the Public Service; and Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information and Transport Janil Puthucheary, who is Minister-in-Charge of the Government Technology Agency.

The committee will be supported by a separate expert group consisting of seven international experts and industry professionals. "The expert group members were selected for their experience and expertise in digital technology and data protection," said the SNDGO.

Members of this expert group are the dean of the faculty of law at the National University of Singapore, Professor Simon Chesterman; managing director of technology services and information security services at DBS Keng Seng Wei; president of land systems at ST Engineering, Dr Lee Shiang Long; chief technology strategist at the Ministry of Health office for healthcare transformation, Dr Robert Morris; president of the Asia data protection officers and senior privacy counsel for Apple in Asia-Pacific Huey Tan; chief executive of cyber security at Singtel Arthur Wong; and chief technology officer at GIC Wu Choy Peng.

In addition to this expert group, the Public Sector Data Security Review Committee is supported by an inter-agency task force formed by public officers across the Government.

The SNDGO said that the committee and inter-agency task force may invite more experts to join the group. It may also engage members of the public and business communities.

The formation of the committee follows a spate of cyber-security breaches and incidents over the past year.

The latest data breach involved the personal information of more than 800,000 blood donors, which appeared online improperly for more than two months.

Singapore was hit by its worst cyber attack in June last year, when hackers went into the database of public healthcare cluster SingHealth and stole the personal data of 1.5 million patients and the outpatient prescription information of 160,000 people, including PM Lee.