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In brief

On 10 January 2022, the Singapore Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) responded to a parliamentary question relating to the number of cases of unauthorised sales of consumers’ personal data that have been investigated over the last five years, and how many of those cases were successfully prosecuted by the Personal Data Protection Commission (PDPC).

Key takeaways

Over the last five years, the PDPC has investigated three cases of alleged data breaches involving unauthorised sales of personal data. 

Two companies were found to be in breach of the Personal Data Protection Act 2012 (No. 26 of 2012) for failing to notify and obtain consent from individuals before the sale of personal data to third parties for telemarketing purposes, and were fined SGD 48,000 (approx. USD 35,703) and SGD 6,000 (approx. USD 4,462) respectively. Apart from being fined, both companies were also directed to cease their actions and rectify their data protection practices.

No breach was found in the third case, which the PDPC investigated. The company was advised on how to improve its data collection practices and how to communicate its Privacy Policy to users more effectively. 

In conclusion, MCI stated that the PDPC takes a firm stance against the unauthorised sale of personal data to safeguard against harm to the public, including identity theft and unsolicited calls.

Organisations purchasing contact lists must carry out due diligence to ensure that the sale of personal data is authorised, and that the data is sufficiently accurate and updated for its purposes, or be prepared to face the consequences.

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Arwen is a local principal in the Firm's Intellectual Property and Technology (IPTech) Practice Group in Singapore. She is a member of the Law Society of Scotland, and has been admitted to practice in Scotland since 2004. Arwen worked as an intellectual property and technology lawyer in the UK and Europe before relocating to Asia in 2014 and has since worked in both Singapore and Hong Kong, advising on matters across both Asia Pacific and Europe. Arwen is recognised in Legal 500 (2020) as "commercial, pragmatic and personable" for the TMT sector.

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