Outlaw.com Report: Singapore firms warned against ‘over-collection’ of personal data

Singapore firms warned against ‘over-collection’ of personal data

Singapore’s Personal Data Protection Commission (PDPC) has warned against the “over-collection” of data about individuals following the entry into force of new regulations.27 Jan 2015

PDPC’s director of communications, planning and policy Evelyn Goh said in a letter to The Straits Times that “organisations should take security measures to protect personal data in their possession or control, which is one of the obligations under the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA)”.
However, Goh said “organisations should also ensure that they do not over-collect personal data during the verification process”.
“When providing customer support services, organisations may request that customers provide certain personal data in order to verify their identities,” Goh said. “As a good practice, organisations should explain to their customers… the purposes for which they require their personal data.”
Under the PDPA, which came fully into effect in July 2014 following a transitional period, organisations must make information about their personal data protection policies, practices and complaint processes available on request. The PDPC said it has been informing organisations of their obligations under the PDPA through briefings, workshops and seminars over the past 18 months.
Data protection law expert Bryan Tan of Pinsent Masons MPillay, the Singapore joint law venture partner of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com, said: “Over-collection is a fairly common struggle most organisations breaking from the habit cultivated from a cheap storage and just in case approach. However, when benchmarked against regulatory cost and the risk posed by such stockpiles of personal data, the usefulness of such excessive data could be called into question.”
A survey conducted by the PDPC in 2014 suggested as many as half of Singaporean businesses were not prepared for the new regime. The survey was conducted between February and April. At that stage 70% of respondents said they were aware of their obligations under the PDPA and 70% also agreed that compliance with the new rules would “result in building consumer confidence”.