SINGAPORE - While an organisation may claim it has ownership of records or databases in its possession that contain an individual's personal data ("Can someone 'own' your personal data?" by Mr Fong Wei Kurk; Sept 17), this would not, as a result, give it ownership rights to the individual's personal data (such as to prevent the individual from giving his contact details to any other organisation).
In the same light, a person who has collected data about street names in Singapore does not have exclusive rights to such data.
The provisions in the Personal Data Protection Act 2012 will apply regardless of any claim that organisations may make about "owning" any personal data.
The provisions in the Act protect individuals' personal data in a number of ways.
Organisations that wish to collect, use or disclose personal data are required to notify and seek the consent of the individual concerned for the purposes of its collection, use and disclosure, unless an exception in the Act applies.
Such consent may also be withdrawn by the individual, and the organisation is then prohibited from using the personal data for such purpose(s) once the data protection obligations in the Act come into force in July next year.
The Personal Data Protection Commission will investigate and take appropriate enforcement actions against complaints of misuse of personal data when the Act fully comes into force on July 2 next year.
Individuals like Mr Fong can ask organisations that send marketing messages to stop using their personal data for marketing purposes. In Mr Fong's case, the Commission has been in touch with him on the matter.
For more information on the protection of personal data, please refer to the advisory guidelines on key concepts in the Act under the section "Personal Data", which can be found on the Commission's corporate website at www.pdpc.gov.sg
Director, Communications & Operations
Personal Data Protection Commission
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