Singapore: Data Portability And Other Initiatives Introduced In Singapore To Promote Innovation And Strengthen Accountability

On May 22, 2019, Singapore's Personal Data Protection Commission introduced three new initiatives:

  1. A public consultation on data portability. The corresponding consultation paper also proposes to introduce data innovation provisions as part of the ongoing review of the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA). The consultation is open for six weeks and will close on July 3, 2019.
  2. A guide on active enforcement.
  3. An updated guide on managing data breaches.

Public consultation on data portability

The commission is proposing to introduce a data portability obligation, with the aim of giving individuals greater control over their personal data and enhancing innovation to support the growth of the digital economy.

The following impacts were considered:

  • Consumer impact: Where consumers are able to move their data from one service provider to another, they are empowered to try out new service offerings and this will in turn incentivize organizations to provide more competitive offers.
  • Market impact: Data portability provides a means of reducing barriers to entry, particularly for start-ups or small players in sectors that are heavily reliant on consumer data. The consultation paper cited the Open Banking initiative in the UK, which has enabled the creation of an app that allows consumers to consolidate accounts from multiple banks, and the Data Transfer Project, which is an industry-led initiative that provides users with the ability to move their data between different online platforms. At the same time, the commission acknowledged that overly burdensome requirements and the increase in compliance costs could result in a first mover losing its incentive to innovate, as a follower could simply emulate its business model and acquire consumer data through the portability obligation. Hence, a balance would need to be struck to create the right competitive landscape and reap the most benefits for consumers and the economy.
  • International developments: Data portability has been introduced in the EU, Australia and the Philippines, and other jurisdictions including India, Japan, New Zealand and the United States (California) are also considering its introduction into their domestic laws. It was therefore important that Singapore keeps pace with international data protection developments in alignment with other key jurisdictions.

The consultation paper proposed that the scope of the obligation be as follows:

  • Covered organizations: The obligation will not apply to exempted organizations under the PDPA (including individuals acting in a personal or domestic capacity, employees acting in the course of employment and public agencies). It will also not apply to data intermediaries.
  • Receiving organizations: The obligation will only apply if the receiving organization is in Singapore. However, it will not prevent voluntary arrangements by organizations to transmit data to overseas entities with an individual's consent. Where the data is irrelevant or excessive in relation to a service or product offered to an individual, a receiving organization may choose not to accept the data or retain only a portion of the data.
  • Requesting individual: Any individual can make a data portability request, regardless of whether they are in Singapore.
  • Covered data: This will only apply to data in the possession or control of an organization that is held in electronic form. The obligation applies to two types of data:
    1. data that is provided by an individual to the organization ("user provided data"); and
    2. data that is generated by an individual's activities in using the organization's products or services ("user activity data").
    • The obligation does not, however, apply to "derived data," which refers to new data elements created through the processing of other data by applying business-specific rules.

      The obligation applies to "business contact information" as defined in the PDPA.

      It would also apply to the personal data of third parties. The receiving organization would only be allowed to process such personal data where the data is under the control of the requesting individual and used only for their personal or domestic purposes. The receiving organization must obtain fresh consent to use the data for any other purposes.

    • Handling portability requests: The paper sets out details of the key responsibilities of the porting organization in relation to:
      1. receiving the request;
      2. verifying the request;
      3. verifying the data to be ported;
      4. porting the data, where the following information would need to be provided to the individual:

        1. fees payable by the requesting individual; and
        2. when the data will be ported;
      5. the format of the ported data;
      6. informing the individual of a rejection;
      7. preserving the data; and
      8. responding to a request withdrawal by the individual.

The data portability obligation is intended to be complementary to the access obligation under the PDPA. Exceptions to the portability obligation will be aligned to exceptions to the access obligation except where access could reveal the personal data of another individual, or reveal the identity of the individual who has provided the personal data and that individual does not consent to the disclosure of their identity.

In terms of enforcement, the commission will have powers to review an organization's:

  • refusal to port data;
  • failure to port data within a reasonable period of time; and
  • fees for porting data pursuant to an individual's request.

The commission will also have the power to issue binding codes of practice on data portability to take into account more specific sectoral requirements. Matters that will be addressed in these codes of practice will include:

  • consumer safeguards;
  • counterparty assurance;
  • interoperability; and
  • security of data.

Public consultation on data innovation provisions

The commission is proposing to allow organizations to use personal data for business innovation purposes, which refers to any of the following:

  • operational efficiency and service improvements;
  • product and service development; and
  • knowing customers better.

In relation to the collection or disclosure of such personal data for business innovation purposes, however, organizations must still notify the individual concerned and seek their consent, unless an exception in the PDPA applies. Also, the business innovation purposes provision does not extend to the use of personal data for direct marketing to consumers. The commission also proposes to exempt derived personal data, which is new data created through the processing of other data by applying business-specific logic or rules, from the following obligations under the PDPA:

  • the access obligation under section 21;
  • the correction obligation under section 22; and
  • the proposed data portability obligation mentioned above.

Guide to active enforcement

The commission has introduced a new expedited decision-making process to bring investigations on clear-cut breaches to a conclusion quickly. This process can be applied where:

  • the nature of the breach is similar to precedent cases with similar facts; and
  • there is an upfront admission of liability for breaching the PDPA (which would be considered a mitigating factor).

Examples include common forms of breaches such as URL manipulation, poor password management or printing errors resulting in unauthorized disclosures to the wrong recipients.

Importantly, an organization can request to make an undertaking to implement a plan to resolve a breach, in place of a full investigation, where:

  • it can demonstrate that it has proper accountability in place, for instance, Data Protection Trustmark certification; or
  • the commission assesses that such undertaking would achieve a similar or better enforcement outcome than a full investigation.

Guide to Managing Data Breaches 2.0

The commission has updated its guide on managing data breaches. It makes recommendations in two main areas:

  • Threshold for notifying the commission and individuals of a data breach: this is now 500 or more affected individuals, or where significant harm to or other impact on individuals is likely; and
  • Timeliness of notification: internal investigations and assessments should take no more than 30 days from an organization becoming aware of a potential breach and notification no later than 72 hours from completion of the assessment.

Given the potential significance of the proposed data portability obligation and data innovation provisions to businesses in Singapore when these take effect, organizations may wish to consider submitting their feedback on the various issues raised in the consultation paper.

Businesses should also take note of the two guides mentioned above, particularly the one on managing data breaches, as this is a timely precursor to the mandatory breach reporting requirement that will soon be introduced in Singapore.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Practice Guides
by Mondaq Advice Centres
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions