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Singapore industry needs stronger codes of conduct as consumer data gains value

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With businesses capturing more data about their customers, Singapore needs to reassess its guidelines and codes of conduct for the industry to ensure personal information is used responsibly and securely.

Pointing to the data "gold rush", Rajnesh Singh, Asia-Pacific bureau director for Internet Society (ISOC), said companies increasingly were realising they could make money out of data and collecting as much as possible[1].

He noted that the push for organisations to adopt digital transformation[2] had resulted in these companies also wanting to store every piece of data while embarking on such initiatives. "Digital transformation may be a double-edged sword in that sense," Singh said in an interview with ZDNet.

He added that more businesses such as retailers were tapping technologies such as data mining, artificial intelligence, and data analytics to extract insights[3] and finetune their business, collecting more and more data with the hopes of being able to better predict consumer demand.

However, he said, there had to be a limit to how much these companies were allowed to collect and this should not go beyond facilitating the services they rendered.

He pointed to how, in Singapore for instance, customers frequently were asked to hand over their national identification card number to facilitate various trivial business transactions, such as entering lucky draws or signing up for customer loyalty programmes.

On its part, the Singapore government last November said it was reviewing guidelines in the country's Personal Data Protection Act[4] (PDPA) to limit the use of national identification numbers[5], specifically, the collection, use, and disclosure of such numbers. Under the proposed revision, some common business practices would have to change such as the collection of NRIC numbers

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