Understanding the new data protection law

Singapore, 26 March 2014 – In January this year, the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) has introduced, through the setting up of a Do Not Call (DNC) Registry, changes to the way an organisation may contact you via telephone for promotional and marketing calls. If you have registered your telephone number with the national DNC registry, you will not get text messages or calls from telemarketers unless you have given your consent or exemptions apply.

The launch of a new book, Data Protection Law in Singapore – Privacy and Sovereignty in an Interconnected World is timely given that organisations are looking at changing their processes and practices to comply with the new guidelines on how personal information may be collected, used and disclosed, when the PDPA comes fully into effect on 2 July this year.

According to a survey, Singaporeans spend an average of 66 hours online per week and own an average of 3.5 Internet-connected devices. People are also sharing more personal details through social networks and these records can be easily stored, searched, re-used and even abused.

Professor Tan Cheng Han SC, Professor of Law at the National University of Singapore Faculty of Law, who contributed a chapter on the blurring of lines between the online and offline worlds argued that Singapore’s PDPA is necessary but not sufficient in protecting individuals and managing the flow of information. Said Professor Tan, “Understanding that landscape and educating users will be essential. This reinforces the Personal Data Protection Commission’s (PDPC) stance that even with legislative safeguards in place, individuals must be vigilant when revealing their personal information or putting it in the public sphere.”

Commenting on the significance of the book, Professor Simon Chesterman said, “The impact of the PDPA will depend on the regulations set up by the Personal Data Protection Commission, the inevitable litigation that reaches the courts and the response of consumers and industries to the new law. The starting point is by understanding, which is what the authors of the book hope to offer by providing different perspectives on this subject.”

Where to buy the book

Data Protection Law in Singapore – Privacy and Sovereignty in an Interconnected World, priced at S$64.20 (inclusive of GST), is available at major bookstores in Singapore. Orders can also be placed at the e-Bookshop via the Singapore Academy of Law website www.sal.org.sg.

For more information, call 6332 0041.

About the Authors

Simon Chesterman is Dean of the National University of Singapore Faculty of Law. He is also an editor of the Asian Journal of International Law and Secretary-General of the Asian Society of International Law. Educated in Melbourne, Beijing, Amsterdam and Oxford, Professor Chesterman’s teaching experience includes periods at the Universities of Melbourne, Oxford, Southampton, Columbia and Sciences Po. From 2006 to 2011, he was Global Professor and Director of the New York University School of Law Singapore Programme. He is the author or editor of 13 books, including One Nation Under Surveillance (Oxford University Press, 2011); Law and Practice of the United Nations (with Thomas M Franck and David M Malone) (Oxford University Press, 2008); You, the People (Oxford University Press, 2004); and Just War or Just Peace? (Oxford University Press, 2001). In 2013, he was appointed as a member of Singapore’s Data Protection Advisory Committee.

Warren B Chik is an Associate Professor at the School of Law in Singapore Management University, where he teaches Information Technology and the Law and Entertainment Law. He writes and researches on subject matters related to this area of law including Internet intermediaries law, digital copyright law, the domain name regime as well as data privacy and protection law. Professor Chik graduated with a Bachelor of Laws from the National University of Singapore and with Master of Laws degrees from Tulane University and University College London.

Graham Greenleaf is a Professor of Law & Information Systems at the University of New South Wales, where he has researched and taught since 1983. He specialises in the relationships between information technology and law. He has degrees in Arts and Law and is a Fellow of the Australian Computer Society. His current areas of research focus are Asian data protection and privacy laws, public rights in copyright and the globalisation of free Internet access to legal information. In 2010, he was made a member of the Order of Australia (AM) for his contributions to advancing free access to legal information, and to the protection of privacy. He received the 2007 Dieter Meurer Prize for Legal Informatics at the University of Saarbrucken. He is a co-founder and Co-Director of the Australasian Legal Information Institute since 1995.

Hannah Lim Yee Fen is an Associate Professor in Business Law at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. She holds degrees in Computer Science and in Law with Honours from the University of Sydney, Australia. She is an internationally recognised scholar in the areas of Internet & technology law, data protection law and intellectual property law. Her research has also been cited with approval by the judiciary, for example, by the High Court of Australia in Roadshow Films v iiNet [2012] HCA 16 where her scholarship was adopted and formed one of the key reasons for decision. She is the author of three scholarly books and has published more than 40 articles in international refereed journals and has delivered more than 70 conference papers, including at US law schools such as Stanford Law School. She recently won a competitive research grant from the EU Centre in Singapore for a project on data protection.

Abu Bakar Munir is an internationally renowned scholar, expert and consultant on information and communications technology law and data protection law. He has previously served as Dean of the Faculty of Law in the University of Malaya, Malaysia. Currently, he is a Professor of Law at the Faculty and an Associate Fellow at the University of Malaya Malaysian Centre of Regulatory Studies. Abu Bakar Munir is the author of several books: Privatization (Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, 1992); Cyber Law: Policies and Challenges (Butterworths Asia, 1999); Privacy and Data Protection (Sweet & Maxwell Asia, 2002); Internet Banking: Law and Practice (LexisNexis, 2004); and Information and Communication Technology Law: State, Internet and Information (Sweet & Maxwell Asia, 2010). His most recent work, Personal Data Protection in Malaysia: Law and Practice (Sweet & Maxwell Asia, 2010), is a must-read book that provides a guidance to comply with Malaysia’s Personal Data Protection Act 2010. He is currently working on another book on data protection law in the Asia Pacific. He speaks extensively at workshops, seminars and conferences around the globe.

Daniel Seng is an Associate Professor at the National University of Singapore Faculty of Law. He was a member of several government committees responsible for various legislative reforms in the area of information technology law, including the Computer Misuse Act (Cap 50A), the Copyright Act (Cap 63), the Electronic Transactions Act (Cap 88), the Evidence Act (Cap 97) and the Layout-Designs of Integrated Circuits Act (Cap 159A). Professor Seng was appointed amicus curiae by the Court of Appeal in the case of Chwee Kin Keong v Digilandmall.com Pte Ltd [2005] 1 SLR(R) 502 – a landmark decision on the issue of unilateral mistake in the electronic contracting environment. He has written and presented numerous papers and studies on data protection, electronic banking, digital evidence, digital copyright and intermediary liability issues at various local, regional and international conferences and workshops, including workshops and conferences organised by the World Intellectual Property Organization (“WIPO”), the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights and the World Bank. He is also a special consultant to WIPO on an ongoing international study of Internet intermediary liability. He is now working on his Doctor of Juridical Science thesis on online intermediary liability at Stanford Law School.

Bryan Tan is a partner at Pinsent Masons LLP. Qualified in both England and Wales and Singapore, he practises in such areas as finance, information technology, telecommunications, biotechnology and bioinformatics, Chinese intellectual property, entertainment law and corporate work. He advises corporations and institutions, as well as governments. He has given numerous talks in Singapore and abroad to research institutes, universities, governments and industry bodies and is a legal adviser to the ASEAN Single Window project. He is an author of Halsbury’s Laws of Singapore: E-Commerce vol 8(3) (LexisNexis, 2008) and Halsbury’s Laws of Malaysia: E-Commerce vol 31 (LexisNexis, 2006) and Halsbury’s Laws of Malaysia: E-Commerce vol 16(1) (LexisNexis, 2009 reissue). He also co-wrote the “Singapore” chapter in Electronic Evidence (LexisNexis, 2009) and the “Singapore” chapter in Handbook of Comparative Higher Education Law (Rowman & Littlefield Education, 2013). Mr Tan also has a regular column on ZDNet on legal tech issues.

Tan Cheng Han SC is a Professor of Law at the National University of Singapore Faculty of Law, where he served as Dean from 2001 to 2011. He has been a visiting professor at East China University of Political Science and Law, National Taiwan University and Peking University, and was a member of the International Advisory Committees of the National Chengchi University College of Law (2009) and the Australian National University College of Law (2011). His current appointments include being Chairman of the Media Literacy Council, Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Move-On and Filming Orders; Chairman of the Public Accountants Oversight Committee, Advisor to the Singapore Tae Kwon-do Federation, a Commissioner of the Competition Commission of Singapore, a member of the Governing Board of the International Association of Law Schools, a member of the Appeal Advisory Panel to the Minister for Finance, a member of the Singapore Sports Council and a member of the Military Court of Appeal. He is also a director of several listed companies.

About Academy Publishing

Academy Publishing is a division of the Singapore Academy of Law. It was officially launched on 18 May 2007 by the former Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong when he was President of the Academy. This division was set up to publish books and other texts on Singapore law, and its objectives are threefold:


  • To provide affordable legal materials to the legal profession (including corporate counsel), law academics, law students, and the Judiciary;
  • To provide an alternative avenue to the academics in our law schools to publish their writings and thereby to encourage them to produce more works; and
  • To disseminate the laws of Singapore to a wider public in the region and internationally.


Academy Publishing is not profit-driven and its immediate priority is to publish books on areas of law that fulfil practice and student needs, although other kinds of legal texts will also be included.










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