DURING the Parliament session on Monday, MP of Ang Mo Kio GRC Ms Lee Bee Wah, asked the Minister of Information, Communications and Arts, Dr Lee Boon Yang, whether a comprehensive privacy law will be introduced to protect the privacy of individuals and their personal data.
She also queried about the existing laws which are in place to protect people from spam mails and unauthorised sale of personal information, as well as protecting people whose photographs are posted on blogs and other new media platforms.
Dr Lee’s reply was:
Click here to find out more!”The Government recognises the importance of data protection and the need to protect personal data. At the same time, we also appreciate the impact of data protection on businesses and the general public.
I had previously informed the House that an Inter-Ministry Committee is reviewing Singapore’s data protection regime. This review is on-going. We are currently looking into developing a data protection model that can best address Singapore’s privacy concerns, commercial requirements and national interest. As data protection is a complex issue with extensive impact on all stakeholders, this review will take some time.”
With regards to unauthorised Use of personal data, he replied:
“While there is currently no generic data protection law, it does not mean that there is no protection of personal data. In fact we have in place strict provisions in sectoral laws, such as the Banking Act and codes for medical professionals to protect sensitive financial and health information. There are also other industry codes of practices against the unauthorised use of personal information. For example, in the telecommunications sector, under the Telecom Competition Code, IDA requires licensees to take reasonable measures to prevent the unauthorised use of End User Service Information. A telecom licensee would be in breach of the Code if it shares with third parties its customers’ information that was obtained from the use of its service, without the customers’ consent.
In addition to sectoral laws, there is a Model Data Protection Code introduced in 2002 for voluntary adoption by the private sector. The principles of this Code have been adopted by many companies, including those engaged in e-commerce under the TrustSg initiative.
The Government also takes data protection within the public sector seriously. We have structured our data protection policy after the Model Data Protection Code and this has been incorporated in the Government Instruction Manuals for the public service.”
Dr Lee also replied Ms Lee’s question on unauthorised photographs in blogs and new media platforms:
“In the case of individuals who discover that their pictures have been posted by other individuals on new media platforms such as blogs, without prior consent, it would be considered a civil matter. The aggrieved persons could first ask the site’s webmaster to remove the pictures. As with matters relating to online libel and personal defamation, they could also seek professional legal advice to determine the most appropriate legal recourse.”
With regards to protections from spam:
“The Member has also asked how consumers are protected from spam mails. The Spam Control Act was passed in Parliament on 12 April 2007. It sets out basic requirements for legitimate direct electronic mass marketing, and provides civil recourse for persons affected by illegal spam in Singapore.
What this translates to, in practical terms, is that each unsolicited, commercial, electronic message which is sent in bulk, is required to contain an ‘