Parliament Sitting on 1 November 2021

QUESTION FOR WRITTEN ANSWER


44. Mr Desmond Choo: To ask the Minister for Communications and Information (a) what is the policy on surveillance advertising; and (b) whether there are plans to increase the transparency and accountability of companies providing and purchasing such services.

Answer:

1. The government supports online commercial activities that use personal data for legitimate purposes. However, there must be accountability and transparency to safeguard individuals’ interests. Organisations which collect, use and disclose personal data for serving relevant advertisements are required to notify individuals clearly and obtain their consent. Organisations cannot obtain this consent through misleading or deceptive practices and  cannot require consent from individuals beyond what is reasonable to provide a service to them. The Personal Data Protection Commission (“PDPC”) has set out its position in  advisory guidelines which highlight the data protection measures organisations need to put in place. These include obtaining individuals’ consent for the collection of personal data through cookies for targeting advertisements. 

2. The PDPC is monitoring international regulatory developments, as well as recent developments in the advertising technology industry such as the advent of privacy preserving means for targeted advertising. The PDPC will put in place additional measures, where relevant, to strengthen accountability of organisations and to ensure that the terms of consent are communicated clearly. 

3. Consumers can also do their part. They may wish to withhold consent if they consider the request to be excessive, or suspect the legitimacy of the organisation, and the manner in which consent was sought.