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Singapore plans data portability requirement as part of PDPA update

A discussion paper on data portability explaining how this supports business innovation, drives competition and gives consumers greater control over their data was announced by Minister for Communications and Information S Iswaran at the Mobile World Congress.

Singapore plans data portability requirement as part of PDPA update

Minister for Communications and Information S Iswaran speaking at the Personal Data Protection Seminar on Jul 25. (File photo)

SINGAPORE: Singapore on Monday (Feb 25) laid out its thoughts on introducing a data portability requirement as part of an ongoing review of the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA), in a move that could give users greater control over the movement of their information across service providers.

This was presented in a discussion paper discussing the benefits and impacts of a data portability requirement for business innovation, market competition and consumers, and announced by Communications and Information Minister S Iswaran at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.

The discussion paper comes after the Personal Data Protection Commission (PDPC) and the Competition and Consumer Commission Singapore (CCCS) announced plans to study data portability last year.

"Singapore believes that there could be greater clarity on how data portability can be introduced in support of a Smart Nation and a Digital Economy," the PDPC said in a press release on Monday.

"Data portability, whereby users are empowered to authorise the movement of their personal data across organisations, can boost data flows and support greater data sharing in a digital economy both within and across sectors," it said.



Data portability allows people to request for a copy of their data held by an organisation in a commonly used and machine-readable format, and get them to send the data to another when switching service providers.

For the consumer, data portability could give them greater control and flexibility over their personal information.

This means that if they choose to move away from one telco to another, for example, they can do so without having to provide the same know-your-customer details repeatedly.

Another benefit would be to allow them to move from one service provider to another without losing past records and important histories built up with previous providers, PDPC said.

This means that online shoppers, for example, can have their shopping history at one e-commerce provider transferred to another platform, allowing the latter to offer better, customised offers from the get-go.

By allowing people to move their data more easily from one service provider to another, this helps them try new services or choose competing service offerings that best suit their needs, PDPC said.

For organisations, data portability would give them wider access to more diverse and larger datasets.


This would, in turn, allow them to develop better insights, optimise or develop products and services better tailored to customers’ needs, the PDPC said, adding that this could potentially lower barriers to entry for new businesses.



The discussion paper was introduced to act as a framework for data originators, data recipients and consumers to understand and discuss data portability, PDPC said.

This includes issues such as how organisations would provide consumers with sufficient information about how ported data will be used, as well as the need for standards on interoperability and security to allow for such data transfers.

“Data is a key enabler of digital transformation, but a delicate balance must be struck between data protection and business innovation,” Mr Iswaran said in the press release.

“Today, Singapore is issuing a discussion paper on data portability, which sets out our thoughts through the lens of personal data protection, competition and data flows to support services and innovation in the digital economy.

“We hope more can join us in this international discourse and work together to build a trusted global environment for business innovation,” he added.

Singapore is not the only one looking at data portability. The European Union, for one, has already included the right to data portability within its wider General Data Protection Regulation last May.

Source: CNA/aj


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