Personal data protection guidelines proposed for telecom, real-estate sectors

PEOPLE who sign up for mobile phone plans with local telcos sign a contract, which will have fine print informing them how their personal data may be used.

But how can telcos, which are required to inform users about this under a new law, tell buyers of prepaid cards who do not need to sign contracts?

What the Personal Data Protection Commission suggests is that telcos can provide a brief statement on how data would be used on the prepaid card, with more details on their websites.

This was one of the proposed guidelines put up for public consultation on the website of the Commission, a statutory board administering the Personal Data Protection Act.

Telcos had wanted more clarity on things like the collection and use of telephone numbers and call usage information of visitors using a roaming phone service here.

The firms also hoped for more details on whether a caller's number can be displayed on the phones of the parties called.

On roaming, the commission's position is that local telcos should be subject to fewer obligations as the local firms would be considered data intermediaries.

It also thinks telcos should be allowed to display a caller's ID for consumers who have not applied for their numbers to be blocked.

Guidelines for the real estate sector were also put up for consultation on Thursday - the first in a series of guidelines for different sectors that the commission is expected to issue over the next few months.

It has proposed that a property agent cannot rely on a Do-Not-Call Registry exemption to market to someone who visits a property launch, without first checking with the registry or getting explicit consent.

Agents also cannot disclose the personal information of a property seller - such as his occupation or marital status - to prospective buyers without prior consent.

These guidelines are expected to help companies comply with the personal data protection rules which will be enforced from July 2.

The consultation will close on Feb 13.