Data Protection in Singapore

In a reply to a question in parliament last month, Minister for Information, Communication and the Arts Lee Boon Yang said that the government was studying the introduction of data protection legislation, but this was a “complex issue” and the “review will take some time.” (Follow links for Straits Times report and extract from Hansard.)

As it turns out, the government really has been reviewing Privacy (sometimes known as Data Protection) legislation in Singapore for a v..e..r..y long time – 20 years in fact. Way back in 1989/90, the Singapore Academy of Law sub-committee on Technology and Law recommended that Singapore adopt Data Protection legislation modelled after that in Europe, Japan and other developed countries. Newspaper reports here. A summary of the sub-committee’s report is here while the full Working Paper is here (long). 

Obviously, no Privacy Laws were adopted, though the issue has bubbled back up to the surface several times. For example in 2002, then again in 2006, when Lee Boon Yang said that an inter-Ministerial committee had been formed and would make its recommendations in the middle of that year.