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Personal Data Protection Act: What you need to know

Companies will face stricter rules when collecting and using personal data once the Personal Data Protection Act comes into effect in July. 

SINGAPORE: With the Personal Data Protection Act starting in July, your personal data will be better protected, and individuals will have control over how companies collect and use their personal information. These include your NRIC number, your photograph, even your voice.

From July 2, companies will have to comply with new rules when collecting and using personal data. However, companies that have collected data before July 2 can continue using it for the purpose it was collected for.

For example, if a bank had been using a customer's financial records to recommend products to him, it can continue doing so. But under the new rules, the customer can tell the bank to stop using his data.

After July 2, companies will need to tell customers why they are collecting their data, and will need their consent to do so. And even if a customer gives his consent, he can still change his mind. 

Customers will have rights to access their data collected by any company from July 2, be it to check how the company has used it, or how they intend to use it. 

Meanwhile, companies must protect customers' data by locking documents, or creating passwords to prevent unauthorised access.

Companies can transfer customers' data outside of Singapore only if they have safeguards to protect the data. Firms who flout the rules will face a maximum fine of S$1 million.

There are certain exceptions. Information on name cards can be used in a business setting once exchanged. 

The Act also does not apply to individuals acting in a personal or domestic capacity. For example, if your neighbour wants to fix a surveillance camera facing the direction of your home, lawyers say, they don't have to ask for your consent before they do so.

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