New Law On Data Sharing Among Government Agencies

Public sector officials who share the personal data of Singaporeans can now be fined up to $5000, jailed for up to two years, or both. The same applies to those who make use of data to benefit themselves or re-identify anonymised data without authorisation. 

While cross-agency data sharing initiatives are already happening today because of technological advancements, rules written preceding the time of technological ubiquity need to be strengthen. 

The Public Sector (Governance) Bill passed by Parliament also states that agencies requesting data, not just those who own it, are now responsible for protecting that data.

The Bill also lists seven purposes under which data can be shared among public sector agencies, such as to improve the efficiency or effectiveness of policy planning and service delivery, and to support a whole-of-government approach in public sector work. 

Currently, on-identifiable data sharing is a common practice within public service. This information is shared to improve policy analysis, planning, and formulation. Centralised agencies will be set up to ensure raw data is properly anonymised before it is released to relevant agencies for analysis. 

Identifiable personal is shared when services, such as social assistance, need to be better delivered to individuals. 

Mr Ong Ye Kung (Minister for Education, Higher Education and Skills) assured MPs sensitive data protected by legislation would remain protected. Public servants’ access rights to data will continue to be prescribed based on security clearance and authorisation. 

Source: "New law on data sharing among govt agencies" (The Straits Times, 9 Jan 2018)

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