Protection for your personal data

This is an interesting article from Singapore’ Straits Times regarding the collection of personal data by building owners. Whether the Malaysian Personal Data Protection Act 2010 (“PDPA”) will apply to building owners in respect of such processing is a moot point but I take the view that the PDPA is not applicable as such collection is not in respect of a commercial transaction. However, the subsequent use of the personal data for commercial use will be caught by the PDPA.

Source: Straits Times
Author: Irene Tham

It is common for security guards at condominiums or other buildings to ask visitors to hand over their identity cards to gain entry.

The practice likely started out as a safeguard in case a visitor commits a crime or sabotage.

Some building owners record a visitor’s name, contact details and identity card number in a log book or computer system, while others hold on to the card in exchange for a visitor’s pass.

But tweaks to this system will be needed once a new data protection law kick in, which could be as early as next year.

The Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts (Mica) told The Sunday Times this consumer privacy law – primarily to deter irresponsible marketers – will also apply to commercial and private building owners.

A Mica spokesman acknowledged that building owners and managements may not have proper data collection and handling processes in place yet. But when the law applies, organisations including commercial and private buildings, must have ‘the necessary processes for the collection, use, disclosure and disposal of personal data’.

Personal data includes names, identity card numbers and contact details.

Managers of buildings or estates must also specify how visitors’ data will be used at the point of collection.

A new Data Protection Commission will investigate complaints of misuse and fine offending parties, with the proposed maximum fine being a hefty $1 million.

Engineer Ngiam Shih Tung said: ‘Retaining identity cards in exchange for visitor passes is a bad practice. Who will be responsible if an identity card is lost?’

Some years ago, he said, his identity card ended up with someone else when soldiers signed out of his army camp.

The Security Industry Regulatory Department, a unit of the Singapore Police Force, does not provide security agencies with guidelines on the retention or scanning of identity cards.

Even after the new data protection law kicks in, this practice of surrendering identity cards to gain entry to premises will still be allowed. But the law will make organisations more accountable for the information they collect.

‘While security officers at buildings, condominiums and other premises are not authorised by the National Registration Regulations to retain a visitor’s IC, it is not illegal for them to do so if the visitor authorises them to hold the IC as a condition for entry or in exchange for a visitor’s pass,’ said a police spokesman.

‘This is a private matter between the parties concerned.’

Building owners and security companies The Sunday Times spoke to said they will review their systems when more details of the new law are available.

Keppel Land – which manages commercial buildings like Ocean Financial Centre, Equity Plaza, Keppel Towers, Bugis Junction Towers and Prudential Tower – makes use of barcode scanning to capture identity card details.

The card is then returned to the visitor. The guards at its buildings also type into a computer the visitor’s name and the location being visited.

‘The information is stored in a system which tracks repeated visits,’ said a Keppel Land spokesman.

Security company Chambers International, which manages about 160 condominiums, does not retain visitors’ identity cards but logs the details in a book. Such books are stored for at least two years.

Its spokesman said it will talk to each condo’s council members to decide what needs to be done when the new law kicks in.

Professor Abu Bakar Munir, an information and communications technology law expert at the University of Malaya’s law faculty, said: ‘People should not be required to give up their ICs just to visit a family in an apartment. A name and mobile number will suffice.’

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd.

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