Privacy watchdog starts public consultation on data law changes

The proposed data portability provision will give individuals greater control over their data and enable greater access to more data by organisations to facilitate data flows and increase innovation. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

SINGAPORE - The Republic's privacy watchdog has started a public consultation to seek views on proposals to introduce data portability and data innovation provisions in the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA), as part of an ongoing review of the laws.

The Personal Data Protection Commission (PDPC), in a statement on Wednesday (May 22), said the consultations will be open for six weeks until July 3.

The proposed data portability provision will give individuals greater control over their data, and enable greater access to more data by organisations to "facilitate data flows and increase innovation", said the PDPC.

For instance, it could allow consumers to switch service providers in industries like banking, insurance or telecommunications without losing their past records, such as their personal particulars, loan repayment and purchase histories.

At the same time, the data innovation provisions will make it clear that organisations can use data appropriate for business purposes without individuals consent, said the PDPC.

"Collectively, the proposals provide a balanced regulatory approach to empower consumer choice and support innovation in a digital economy," the commission said in its statement.

PDPC deputy commissioner Yeong Zee Kin, in the statement, said while data is a "key enabler" of digital transformation, a balance must be achieved between data protection and business information.

Mr Yeong added: "We are taking firm steps to position Singapore as a trusted data hub in the global digital economy by seeking feedback on the proposed data portability and innovation provisions, as well as test-bedding data breach notification measures."

In February this year, at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, Communications and Information Minister S. Iswaran presented a paper discussing the benefits and impact of data portability for business innovation, market competition and consumers.

It was announced in Spain that Singapore is looking to implement a data portability requirement as part of the ongoing review of the PDPA - a move that could give users greater control over the movement of their information across service providers.

The discussion paper came after the announcement by the PDPC and Competition and Consumer Commission Singapore last year about plans to study data portability.

The privacy watchdog said the two proposals provide a balanced regulatory approach in empowering consumer choice and supporting innovation.

They are also to align with what other countries such as Australia, India, New Zealand and Japan are doing.

"Such alignment is crucial in ensuring that the PDPA keeps pace with progressive global developments and goes towards strengthening international recognition of Singapore's data protection regime," the PDPC said.

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