Privacy and law enforcement not mutually exclusive :Forum
Creating a complementary but independent personal data protection body that can work with the PDPC to regulate how personal data, including data gathered by the public authorities, may be a step in the right direction.
The recent debate on the use of TraceTogether data in police investigations has generated divisive views. These range from passionate claims of "if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear" to musings on the continued use of the TraceTogether app.
I believe a majority of views, like mine, lie somewhere in the middle. Should we not have personal data privacy, a robust pandemic response system as well as effective and efficient law enforcement? Certainly, with more than 70 per cent of Singaporeans using the app and the pandemic still here to stay for a while more, it is something we should strive towards.
Does such a solution exist? In fact, effectively managing personal data (along with perhaps preventing cyber attacks) almost seems an unsolvable task.
However, this has not stopped others from trying. For example, Britain has set up its Information Commissioner's Office as an independent public body to uphold information rights. France has a similar office, and Finland has its Office of the Data Protection Ombudsman. All three are independent information and data protection bodies that serve to guard the privacy of personal data.
In Singapore, the Personal Data Protection Commission (PDPC) has been tasked with administering and enforcing the Personal Data Protection Act. It also serves as Singapore's main authority in matters relating to personal data protection.
Creating a complementary but independent personal data protection body may be a step in the right direction. A body that can work with the PDPC to regulate how personal data, including data gathered by the public authorities, is utilised.
Crucially (and ironically), to mitigate privacy issues, the body set up should have its independence, insofar as possible, guaranteed through both its composition and organisation.
Idealistic. But so were aspirations behind Singapore's many other successes.
Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.