Singapore released a discussion paper on data portability at the GSMA Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The paper has been issued to provide greater clarity of its benefits in support of a Smart Nation and a Digital Economy and commence discussions on its effective implementation.
Releasing the discussion paper, S Iswaran, Singapore’s Minister for Communications and Information, said, “Data is a key enabler of digital transformation, but a delicate balance must be struck between data protection and business innovation. Today, Singapore is issuing a discussion paper on data portability, which sets out our thoughts through the lens of personal data protection, competition and data flow to support services and innovation in the digital economy.”
“We hope more can join us in this international discourse and work together to build a trusted global environment for business innovation,” he added.
Data portability enables individuals to request a copy of their data held by an organisation in a structured, commonly used, and machine-readable format, and for the organisation to transmit the data to another organisation.
“The discussion paper explains how data portability supports business innovation and drives competition – especially with cross-sectoral implementation – while empowering consumers with greater control over their data. It also provides a framework for data originators, data recipients and consumers to understand and discuss data portability,” said a release issued by Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) today.
“This includes issues 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,” it added.
Notably, the Discussion Paper was developed by the Personal Data Protection Commission of Singapore (PDPC) in collaboration with the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (CCCS).
Data portability will have a significant impact on the organisations and consumers.
Impact of Data Portability on Organisations
Organisations can benefit from data portability through wider access to more diverse data or larger datasets. Enlarging the diversity and volume of data can help them develop better insights, optimising or developing products and services better tailored to customers’ needs. This can drive competitive advantages for the organisation.
From the market perspective, data portability could also potentially lower barriers to entry for new businesses.
Impact of Data Portability on Consumers
Data portability strengthens consumer interests by giving them more control and flexibility over the personal data they wish to share. By allowing consumers to move their data more easily from one service provider to another, or simply to copy their data for use in different services, consumers are empowered to try new services or choose competing service offerings that best suit their needs.
Data portability also allows consumers to move to other service providers without losing past records and important histories built up with previous service providers. For example, an individual’s transactional data such as loan or credit repayments, and purchase histories which have been built up over the years with one service provider, can potentially be moved to a new service provider. Access to such data would enable the service provider to make an improved offer thereby benefiting the individual. This reduced cost of switching also creates incentives for competitive services. Consumers will, therefore, benefit as organisations enhance their understanding of consumer wants, and develop products and services that better meet these wants.
Effective Implementation of data portability may involve addressing issues such as:
- Providing consumers with information about how their data will be used by the data recipient and other relevant information to enable the effective exercise of the right to data portability
- Setting out information on track record, reputation and data management and protection practices of data recipients, and potentially accrediting data recipients to provide consumer assurance
- Articulating the standards for the protection of the data during transmission, as well as the systems involved in the porting of data
- Establishing the scope of data portability beyond classical definitions of personal data, to data that have been provided by the consumer
- Laying out the benefits of cross-sector portability beyond the traditional benefits of ensuring competition within an established market
- Dealing with the need for clear minimum technical standards to ensure interoperability and reduce friction between data originator and data
“Singapore aims to advance its vision to be a leading Digital Economy and Smart Nation, continually embracing digital transformation and reinventing itself to remain globally competitive. The Discussion Paper is part of Singapore’s efforts to do so through investing and building capabilities to support the growth of emerging technologies,” said IMDA.