oBike has to expunge customer data unless there are legal, business reasons: Iswaran

oBike has to expunge customer data unless there are legal, business reasons: Iswaran

oBikes Marine Cove
A damaged oBike at Marine Parade. (Photo: Amir Yusof) 

SINGAPORE: Bike-sharing operator oBike is required to expunge customer data after the company is wound up if it has no legal or business purpose to retain it, Minister for Communications and Information S Iswaran said on Tuesday (Jul 10).

In a written reply to a Parliamentary question from MP Cheng Li Hui, Mr Iswaran stressed that oBike, like any other business in Singapore, is required to comply with the data protection obligations under the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA), even though the company is undergoing liquidation.

“The PDPA continues to apply to a company undergoing liquidation. Where a liquidator is appointed, the liquidator will also have to ensure that the company undergoing liquidation continues to comply with the PDPA,” said Mr Iswaran.

“The personal data of customers in Singapore cannot be treated as assets and sold without their consent,” he added.

oBike appointed US-headquartered firm FTI consulting as its provisional liquidator last week.

Mr Iswaran further explained that when a company undergoes liquidation, its liquidator may sell the whole or part of the company, its assets or businesses. If such a sale takes place, customer data that is directly relevant to the transaction may be transferred to the acquirer.

However, he stressed that under the PDPA, customers must be notified that their personal data has been transferred.

“If customers do not wish for the acquiring company to use their personal data, they can approach the acquiring company to withdraw their consent, whereupon the acquiring company shall then delete the personal data once there is no legal or business purpose to retain it,” he added.

oBike previously said it has about 1 million users in Singapore.

According to Mr Iswaran, Singapore’s privacy watchdog the Personal Data Protection Commission (PDPC) expects oBike and its liquidators to continue complying with the PDPA even as it prepares to exit the Singapore market. 

“PDPC has reminded oBike of its obligations under the PDPA, and is monitoring the situation closely. PDPC will not hesitate to take further action to safeguard consumers’ interests if necessary,” he said.

Source: CNA/am(aj)