SG government sets rules for data sharing

The Singapore Parliament has passed a Public Sector (Governance) Bill to help improve the data sharing scheme, among other things, by strengthening the rules that enable and govern cross-agency data sharing within the public sector.

According to Ong Ye Kung, Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) and Second Minister for Defence, there are seven specific public purposes stated in the Bill, such as sharing identifiable personal data for the better delivery of services to individuals. He added that the Bill allows for four levels of protection:

1) Having more safeguards to ensure information is anonymised;
2) Stating the responsibility of each agency involved in the data sharing;
3) The continued safeguarding of information that is currently protected by a specific legislation, such as the Income Tax Act;
4) Introducing criminal offences to ensure individual officers are responsible for protecting information.

Ong said that the government intends to set up data centres so that data from various government agencies can be matched and anonymised before making it available to relevant agencies for analysis. The objective of the centres is to mitigate the risk of failing to anonymise data.

The Bill states that agencies requesting for data are responsible for protecting the information passed to them. It also further introduces criminal penalties for the unauthorised disclosure and improper use of information and the unauthorised re-identification of anonymised data. Ong added that the Bill only involves the sharing of data within the Public Service, not with external parties such as private commercial entities or healthcare providers.