Minister outlines when public agencies disclose personal data, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Minister outlines when public agencies disclose personal data

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Minister outlines when agencies will disclose personal data to correct errors

An individual's personal details will be disclosed only if they are relevant to a case and are necessary to make the Government's clarifications clear and indisputable.

In stating this yesterday, Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information Janil Puthucheary outlined three conditions under which public agencies would disclose personal data to counter inaccuracies in public complaints or petitions.

First, personal data will be disclosed only if the Government's clarifications can be disputed or would not be sufficiently clear without it.

Second, such data should be specific enough for the relevant individual to challenge the Government's account of the case, if necessary.

Finally, personal data that is irrelevant to the case will not be disclosed.

Dr Janil's reply to Nominated MP Walter Theseira follows the Central Provident Fund (CPF) Board's release last December of the personal details of a woman suffering from lupus.

She had asked for access to savings in her CPF's Medisave and Special Accounts, in an article on her situation that was published on The Online Citizen (TOC) website.

While TOC used the pseudonym "Ms Soo", the CPF Board, in its response posted on Facebook, gave her full name as Ms Sua Li Li.

Dr Janil said that on occasion, it would be necessary to disclose an individual's identity, even when the publicised complaint is anonymous.


"This is to remove any ambiguity in the Government's statement of the facts and settle any doubts over the matter conclusively in the minds of the public," he added.

Dr Theseira, noting that the move could discourage people from seeking help, asked if the Government would consider adopting a protocol in which agencies would first try to get the complainant to agree to a statement that clarifies the matter.

"Only if that doesn't happen, then as a last resort, the agency could clarify matters without that person's consent," he said.

Replying, Dr Janil said it was in the nature of such public complaints that they do not "lend itself to a protocol".

NMP Anthea Ong asked if there are ways for citizens to seek redress for what they deem unfair public disclosure, given that the Government is not bound by the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA).

Dr Janil said citizens have many channels to ask for help or give feedback, including their MPs, service centres and online channels.

"The PDPA notwithstanding... none of this prevents or is meant to discourage a citizen from seeking redress from a complaint," he said. "Inaccuracies need to be stated in the public in a way that is unambiguous and robustly explains the facts to everybody."