Singapore looks into data portability to pave way for innovation

With data portability and a greater access to data, organisations can develop better insights, optimising or developing products and services better tailored to customers’ needs.

This is one of the many benefits listed in the "Data Portability Discussion Paper" released by the government and may be realised if Singapore's plans to introduce a data portability requirement in Personal Data Protection Act 2012 goes through.

The plan was announced by Minister for communications and information, S Iswaran, at the Global System for Mobile Communications’ Mobile World Congress in Barcelona yesterday. He said, “Data is a key enabler of digital transformation, but a delicate balance must be struck between data protection and business innovation."

The move is expected to help Singapore move towards its vision of a digital economy where a key source of innovation lies in emerging technologies enabling new business models that transcend traditional sectoral boundaries. Cross-sectoral data portability can support such innovation by facilitating the porting of consumers’ data across service providers and giving businesses more access to data.

While organisations gain competitive advantages and potentially lower barriers to entry,  consumers can move their data more easily and therefore, empowered to try new services or choose competing service offerings that best suit their needs. With data portability, consumers will also not lose past records and important histories built up with previous service providers.

However, some questions remain to be answered, such as how organisations would provide consumers with sufficient information about how ported data will be used and the data recipient’s data protection practices; and the need for interoperability and security standards to reduce friction between data originators and recipients.

The paper, which was developed by the Personal Data Protection Commission of Singapore in collaboration with the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore, plans to commence international discourse on solving those issues and ways to implement data portability effectively.