SINGAPORE- Three rounds of public consultation were held over the period from 2011 to this year before the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) was enacted by Parliament. According to the consultation reports, available on the Infocomm Development Authority's website, businesses had asked for an exemption from Do-Not-Call (DNC) rules for existing business relationships.
But the then Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts decided against that because such an exemption would detract from the purpose of the regime, and affected businesses could easily seek customers' explicit consent.
Therefore, I was surprised to read that the Personal Data Protection Commission (PDPC) had claimed that the issue of ongoing business relationships was not brought up in the public consultations ("Do-Not-Call exemption 'not back-pedalling'"; last Saturday).
The PDPC could have let the original DNC rules come into force and let them run for a few months to assess how onerous they could be in practice before making any changes.
By changing the rules at the last minute and not providing any opportunity for public comment, the PDPC has opened itself up to charges of bias and high-handedness.
The DNC registry is only part of the PDPA, which aims to safeguard individuals' personal data from misuse.
The data protection provisions of the Act will be more far-reaching and will force many Singapore organisations to upgrade their practices to match those in other developed countries, where stricter privacy rules have been in place for many years.
Hopefully, the PDPC will not make any significant changes to the data protection rules without public consultation.
Ngiam Shih Tung
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