Advisable for management bodies of high-rise residences to abide by act

I was asked by The Star to comment on whether the Personal Data Protection Act 2010 (PDPA) binds management bodies of high-rises from disclosing details about residents who contracted Covid-19. I said-

Bar Council Intellectual Property Committee co-chairperson Foong Cheng Leong said it was unclear if management bodies were involved in the processing of personal data for commercial purposes.

“There are different views to this. Nevertheless, there is no blanket exemption for JMBs and MCs.

“In light of this uncertainty, it’s advisable for them to comply with the PDPA.

“In any event, disclosure of information of residents with Covid-19 is highly discouraged as it could breach the PDPA and even amount to an invasion of privacy, ” he said.

There are views that management bodies collecting monthly maintenance fee to service the building providing is a form of a “commercial transaction” and thus the PDPA applies. The PDPA only applies to personal data in respect of a commercial transaction.

However, it is noted that the Strata Management Act 2013 empowers a management body to collect charges for the purpose of maintenance and management of the building. It is therefore arguable that they are merely exercising a legal duty and not conducting a “commercial transaction”.

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