New guidelines to help companies share data in trusted, responsible way

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

SINGAPORE - Businesses in Singapore can now refer to a new set of guidelines on how to share data in a trusted and 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 complies with privacy guidelines, while still allowing data to be shared between them.

The framework was developed by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and privacy watchdog, the Personal Data Protection Commission (PDPC), in consultation with the industry. It can be downloaded from the IMDA 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 telecommunications providers, customers will not have to manually fill in all their details again should they decide to switch to another telco, as these details can be retrieved.

And with data sharing between banks and telcos, they can exchange information on customer needs so that they can tailor credit cards or mobile phone plans that are more appealing to users.

The new framework was announced on Friday (June 28) 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 (AI). But establishing trust can be complex, and while companies have started to recognise the value of data, it is a challenge to share it in a trusted and responsible way.

This new framework will establish a "common data sharing language" by providing a systematic approach to understanding the considerations about data sharing.

"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.

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

In a statement on Friday, the IMDA said the framework addresses several challenges which 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, the 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 who 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 participating in shared data flows.

He added: "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 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."

The release of the framework comes after Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran said in February that the Government was planning to introduce a data portability requirement for service providers, as part of the ongoing review of the Personal Data Protection Act.