PH, Singapore renew stronger ties in personal data protection

September 15, 2022 | 3:50 PM GMT+0800 Last Edit: September 15, 2022

The Philippines and Singapore renewed their commitment to deepen their ties in personal data protection.

In a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed on September 7, 2022 by Privacy Commissioner John Henry D. Naga of the National Privacy Commission (NPC) and Commissioner Lew Chuen Hong of Singapore’s Personal Data Protection Commission (PDPC), the two countries reaffirmed their agreement to promote exchanges in personal data protection and facilitate trusted cross border data flows.

The signing was jointly witnessed by Philippine President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. The MOU is among the areas of cooperation the Philippines and Singapore agreed on during the state visit of President Marcos to Singapore from September 6-7, 2022. The first data protection-related MOU was signed in September 2019.

According to Privacy Commissioner Naga, the renewed MOU recognizes the need to foster closer collaboration and cooperation in personal data protection and the free flow of data as the global digital economy advances. “Diplomatic relations like this Memorandum of Understanding are one of the tools to strengthen the Philippines and Singapore’s partnership, build mutual trust between our countries, and create greater opportunities in data privacy and protection. Indeed, the MOU intensifies the already existing relations between the Philippines and Singapore,” the privacy chief added.

PDPC Commissioner Lew stated that the MOU promotes the critical elements in developing the digital economy. In his post, Commissioner Lew wrote, “NPC and PDPC have been longstanding partners, as we advanced ASEAN frameworks on data management and contractual clauses. Such work enhances certainty for companies doing business in ASEAN.”

Scope of collaboration

Under the MOU, the Philippines and Singapore can exchange information and provide mutual assistance in potential or ongoing investigations in their respective jurisdictions in relation to a suspected data privacy and protection violation.

The two ASEAN member states have committed to developing compatible mechanisms to enable trusted cross border data flows. The mechanisms include the promotion of applicable international certification systems; mutual recognition of comparable protection afforded by the Philippines and Singapore’s respective legal frameworks or national trust mark and privacy certification frameworks; and the development, participation, promotion, and implementation of the ASEAN Cross Border Data Flow Mechanism

As further stated in the MOU, the NPC and PDPC may also collaborate in terms of knowledge sharing, training, and education on current and emerging privacy and data protection issues and trends; and the exploration or identification of suitable participants in a crossjurisdictional sandbox to test-bed innovative data sharing cases.

The MOU took effect on the date of the signing and will be in effect until either country chooses to terminate it. To ensure seamless collaboration, both States will monitor the implementation of the MOU and conduct periodic reviews.