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New Bill Introduced To Protect Personal Data

In its aim to strengthen Singapore’s reputation as a business hub, the government introduced a new legislation to regulate the collection, use and disclosure of personal data by organisations. After several rounds of consultations with the public, the bill was finally presented.

The Personal Data Protection Bill is a breather for industry watchers as they expect the legislation to change the way organisations use personal information of individuals for telemarketing. With the bill, organisations which have personal data of individuals like names, identity card numbers, mobile phone numbers and even photographs will have to think twice before giving information. Once the bill is passed, consumers and individuals will always be informed of any use of their personal data. They can also opt out of marketing calls and SMS-es by signing up with the Do Not Call Registry. The Do Not Call Registry is a key concept of the legislation. The Ministry of Information, Communication and the Arts (MICA) said that this proposal received strong support during the public consultation exercise.

The bill also highlights the various penalties and sanctions, including fines and jail terms for those who will not comply. Companies and organisations which fail to comply will be fined up to S$10,000 for sending advertising messages to an individual after his number has been added to the Registry; up to S$10,000 if the sender conceals his number; and up to S$5,000 or jail of up to a year or both, if an individual seeks access to the personal data of others without permission. To enforce the law, there will be a Personal Data Protection Commission and Administration. They will be responsible for investigating cases, promoting awareness on data protection and on giving advice to the government on data protection.

According to Mr. Christopher De Souza, a member of the Government Parliamentary Committee (GPC) for Law and Home Affairs, personal data is, by its very nature, delicate. He said that the Personal Data Protection Bill is a timely effort from the government to secure personal data of individuals that are deemed sensitive.

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