Singapore considering data portability for service providers

A ZTE robot musician playing the piano at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran yesterday announced at the trade show that Singapore is issuing a paper on data portability to consider how it co
A ZTE robot musician playing the piano at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran yesterday announced at the trade show that Singapore is issuing a paper on data portability to consider how it could be effectively implemented in Singapore.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Move will give consumers more control over their data, says Iswaran

Consumers could soon find it easier to switch from a service provider to another without losing their past records, such as loan repayment and purchase histories.

They could also be able to transfer their data to another service provider in a different industry.

For example, a person who uses wearables like smart watches and fitness bands will have data such as his height, weight, body mass index, heart rate and running routes stored with the manufacturer. He could transfer this data to an insurance company, which may then determine that his lifestyle makes him less of a risk and hence offer him a more attractive insurance premium.

These are some of the possible scenarios with the introduction of a data portability requirement for service providers as part of an ongoing review of the Personal Data Protection Act.

A service provider is any business or organisation that collects a consumer's data in order to render a service, such as a bank, an insurance firm, an Internet service provider or an online retailer.

When the data portability requirement is introduced, a service provider will have to transmit an individual's personal data to another provider upon the individual's request.

This means that consumers do not need to re-enter data that they have given to another service provider.

FINE BALANCE

Data is a key enabler of digital transformation, but a delicate balance must be struck between data protection and business innovation.

MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION S. ISWARAN

Businesses can also access more diverse or larger data sets, which could be used to develop products and services that are better tailored to customers' needs.

From the market perspective, data portability could also lower barriers to entry for new firms.

Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran made the announcement at the annual mobile industry trade show Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, yesterday.

"Data is a key enabler of digital transformation, but a delicate balance must be struck between data protection and business innovation," Mr Iswaran said.

"Today, Singapore is issuing a discussion paper on data portability. It sets out our thoughts through the lens of personal data protection, competition and data flows to support services and innovation in the digital economy. We hope more can join us in this international discourse and work together to build a trusted global environment for business innovation."

Developed by the Personal Data Protection Commission of Singapore and the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore, the Data Portability Discussion Paper makes the case for how data portability can support business innovation, while allowing consumers to have more control over their data.

The paper is also intended to serve as a starting point for the discussion on how data portability could be effectively implemented in Singapore.

Globally, the general trend is towards data portability. Many countries, including Australia, India, Japan, the Philippines and the United States, have either implemented data portability or are considering enacting regulations on data portability.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 26, 2019, with the headline 'S'pore considering data portability for service providers'. Print Edition | Subscribe