New guidelines for companies to share data responsibly

The Trusted Data Sharing Framework spells out best practices for companies to share data that complies with privacy guidelines, while still allowing data to be shared between them.
The Trusted Data Sharing Framework spells out best practices for companies to share data that complies with privacy guidelines, while still allowing data to be shared between them. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Framework spells out best practices and aims to boost trust among consumers, business partners in data flows

Businesses in Singapore can now refer to a new set of guidelines on how to share data in a responsible way so that they can access information needed to create better products and services, and to reduce business costs.

The Trusted Data Sharing Framework spells out best practices for companies to share data that comply with privacy guidelines so that there is trust among consumers and business partners in data flows.

The framework was developed by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and the privacy watchdog, the Personal Data Protection Commission (PDPC), in consultation with the industry. It can be downloaded from IMDA's website.

Data sharing among companies is expected to bring more conveniences and better products and services to consumers, and also enable businesses to reap rewards in terms of greater efficiency.

For example, with data sharing among telco providers, customers will not have to give their personal details again should they decide to switch to another telco, as these details can be retrieved.

Banks and telcos can also exchange information on customer needs so that they may tailor credit cards or mobile phone plans to make them more appealing to users.

The new framework was announced yesterday by Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information Janil Puthucheary on the second day of Innovfest Unbound, an annual technology conference which is into its fifth year.

 
 
 

Dr Janil underscored that trust is the "currency" needed in the use of data and artificial intelligence, but noted that establishing trust can be complex. While companies have started to recognise the value of data, it is a challenge to share data in a trusted and responsible way.

"PDPC and IMDA are launching the Trusted Data Sharing Framework... setting out some guidelines, some of the positions on how to share, how to develop a common data sharing language, how to improve data flows within the private sector and, hopefully, eventually (between) the private sector and the public sector as well," he said.

Trust in data, said Dr Janil, will be key to allowing Singapore to realise the potential of the digital economy.

In 2016, a study by Oxford Economics and Huawei estimated that the size of the global digital economy amounted to about US$11.5 trillion (S$15.6 trillion), or over 15 per cent of global gross domestic product (GDP).

Singapore's Digital Economy Framework for Action shared an estimate that the digital economy would contribute an additional US$10 billion to the country's GDP by 2021, Dr Janil added.

IMDA said yesterday that the new framework addresses several challenges that organisations face in sharing their data with others.

These challenges include a lack of guidance on how to do so, a concern that data sharing could run afoul of PDPC regulations, and fears that sharing data could lead to a loss of business competitiveness.

Echoing Dr Janil, IMDA said: "The framework helps organisations to establish a set of baseline practices by providing a common 'data sharing language', and suggesting a systematic approach to the broad considerations for establishing trusted data sharing partnerships."

It added that organisations which embrace data sharing stand to reduce costs across their business processes and generate more income.

Mr Lam Chee Kin, DBS managing director and head of group legal, compliance and secretariat, agreed that Singapore cannot maximise the benefits of a Smart Nation without shared data flows.

He said: "It's no longer about each institution working on its own data. Unless you are sophisticated, it's hard to know how to excel in sharing data broadly and yet preserve the trust of your customers and business partners - for example, how you share operationally, how you secure the infrastructure and how you value it.

"So this framework levels the playing field for everyone in establishing a baseline common language."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 29, 2019, with the headline 'New guidelines for companies to share data responsibly'. Print Edition | Subscribe