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Briefing: Data Protection Law in Singapore

John Tan | May 30, 2012
The Data Protection Law is expected to be passed in the Singapore Parliament later this year. This will have significant implications for organisations and individuals in Singapore collecting, using or storing personal data.

"From a broader perspective, with a consumer protection data framework in place, Singapore will join many developed nations with such a law. The Law promises to strengthen Singapore's overall economic competitiveness. It is expected to enhance the country's status as a safe and trusted hub and a choice location for global data management," said Tan Boon Chin, managing director, NEC Asia Pacific Regional Competency Centre for Public Safety, in his welcome address.

Tan Boon Chin
Tan Boon Chin

"In this respect, NEC is also deeply committed to the development of solutions to safeguard both the physical and virtual world. We have recently launched a Safer Cities campaign to highlight how our comprehensive suite of public safety solutions are indeed helping to make cities safer, from border control, national ID, integrated security for critical infrastructure, disaster management all the way to securing cloud and web servers.", added Tan of NEC.

Some 50 IT practitioners were gathered at the Raffles Hotel last month to attend the Executive Breakfast Briefing hosted and sponsored by NEC. The seminar was co-sponsored by Infotect Security, a cyber security solutions partner of NEC and organised by CIO Asia magazine.

Implementing data protection policies
The impending Data Protection Act has significant implications for organisations and individuals handling personal data. Steve Tan, equity partner (Intellectual Property, Technology, Entertainment & Communications) at legal firm Rajah & Tann LLP, introduced what data protection was about, the requirements that the new legislation would impose on their organisations and the implementation of policies to comply with it.

Steve Tan
Steve Tan

"Data protection is an aspect of privacy protection that deals with control over the collection, storage, accuracy, use and dissemination of personal information. The purpose is to ensure that personal data is not used without the knowledge or consent of the individual concerned," explained Tan. The legislation also aims to ensure correct and accurate processing of personal data about a specific individual, he said.

The Personal Data Protection Bill is planned to be tabled to Parliament in the third quarter of 2012.

Tan observed that "currently there is no overarching data protection law in Singapore to deal with personal data", although aspects of data protection are currently governed by more than 150 disparate, sector-specific statutes.

In the proposed DP Bill, personal data relates to a natural person, whether living or deceased, who can be identified from that information. This includes names, identification numbers, and job titles. The data should relate to a specific individual, such as salary information, work performance reports, as well as medical and criminal records.


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