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PDPA in Singapore: What It Means For Event Planners

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to know that one of the chief concerns of people today regards the issue of privacy. As I write this, my browser window is feeding me with all I need to know about the email leaks of the 2016 US Democratic primaries. Together with all the other server hacks or data thefts you can recall, you can understand why privacy is such an important issue in this digital age.

My characteristically long introduction is to highlight what I believe to be the essence of the issue we will discuss today – the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA). For Singaporeans and for businesses that operate in Singapore, this law does impact on the way certain operations can be managed. In this (hopefully) helpful article, we’ll be taken through a crash course in the legalese of the matter and how it affects the event planning industry.

What Is The PDPA

 In the event that you find the official government websites tl;dr, here is a quick summary. Basically, the PDPA is a data protection law that oversees the needs of both individuals and organizations with regards to personal data. In this respect, personal data is simply information about a person that identifies him/her and that which an organization is privy to.

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With the law having come into effect in January 2013, the resulting Do Not Call (DNC) Registry was established and this meant that individuals who registered could exclude themselves from “receiving marketing phone calls, mobile text messages such as SMS or MMS, and faxes from organizations”.

Why It Matters To You

This law has implications for event planners in a number of ways. Firstly, it is without doubt that data collection is an important aspect in event management. This data helps determine many aspects of an event and the collection of such data constitutes attempts at market research that is particularly important for events such as product launches. As all successful organizations know or realize, having an understanding of the market and your clientele is a fundamental tool in having a successful product. PDPA restricts the amount of raw data one can collect and so organizations have to find new methods to collect this information. These methods may include the much more tedious street intercepts or simply cold calling.

Secondly, the DNC register might be restrictive in allowing event planners access to potential clients who were not already in their database. Targeting specific demographics of potential customers is a bit harder as a result.

Thirdly, third party information will be harder to source out and one has to make the relevant checks to make sure that customers of clients that you wish to engage are permissibly contacted. The reverse is also true – you cannot share your clients’ information with other clients for any reason without their consent.

How To Remain On The Right Side

So now that you know all the technical issues of the PDPA and how it matters to your profession, the trick is staying on the right side of the law. In that regard, the first thing that organizations and companies should respect is the spirit of the law. After all, no matter how disadvantageous it may seem to you, laws are there to protect and should be seen in the spirit in which they were enacted. Understand individuals and their need for privacy at its essence and have your operations work on that basis. That will be a good place to start with regard to keeping the PDPA onside.

Therefore, always check those DNC registers. Ensure that the number you are about to call is not listed on the DNC register or that the recipient has given consent beforehand. Obey the statutes of the law and this includes including information that identifies yourself and your contact information.

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As the official line goes, the “spirit” of this law can be summed up in three points – consent, purpose and reasonableness. Always acquire the individual’s consent for any use or disclosure, never go beyond the scope of what your operations warranted and always tell the other party what this scope was. In these simple ways, you can always err on the side of caution.

That’s (Sort Of) It

It is hard to distill any legal act into a short article, for many obvious reasons. In this article, however, I have tried to give you a short and simple summary of what this law entails and how best your events company can work with it in spite of the added challenges this law entails.

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