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Forum - PDPA: Update must ensure law keeps up with the times

Forum - PDPA: Update must ensure law keeps up with the times

Source: Straits Times
Article Date: 07 Nov 2020

The DNC registry does not seem effective in stopping harassment from unsolicited messages and there should be a mechanism for easy submission of feedback or complaints, says the author.

Changes to the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) were passed in Parliament this week (Update to data law seeks to retain trust, spur innovation, Nov 3).

Enacted in 2012, the Act, which governs the collection, use and disclosure of personal data, provided for the subsequent establishment of the Do Not Call (DNC) registry, which lets people opt out of marketing messages addressed to their Singapore telephone numbers.

Despite the existence of the DNC registry, many of us still receive unsolicited messages from companies extending unsecured short-term loans. Many of these messages target those with debts incurred from gambling.

The DNC registry does not seem to have a mechanism for easy reporting of unsolicited messages. It does not seem effective in stopping such harassment.

A recent development is the unsolicited and unconsented listing of medical clinics and doctors on websites and medical consultation apps.

These websites and apps reproduce doctors' information from official websites such as those of the Ministry of Health and Singapore Medical Council.

One of their aims is to attract users to make an appointment to see a doctor. When the doctor chosen is not one who subscribes to their services, the user is redirected to another doctor who did pay the website.

This is misleading and not different from those taxi touts at tourist spots sidetracking unsuspecting tourists.

Some of these websites are created and hosted by companies overseas, where local laws cannot be applied.

The changes to the PDPA should keep up with the times and technological changes.

First, there should be a mechanism for easy submission of feedback or complaints. It could be an app like those of the police and the National Environment Agency.

Second, the law should be amended to include data belonging to companies and their staff. It currently covers only personal data.

Third, the world today is flat as a result of information technology. Many fraudsters and criminals can commit their deeds from abroad. Innovative ideas must be adopted to prosecute these offenders.

The law must be pre-emptive and stay steps ahead of those who are tempted to fleece the innocent.

Leong Choon Kit (Dr)

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

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