Note: The Data Protection Commission wrote in to clarify that employees are also protected by the Act, for more details read here: http://www.fivestarsandamoon.com/correction-pdpa-protects-employees-also/
Living in Singapore, we’re quite comfortable with giving away private information like our IC numbers, address and occupation details.
Many acquaintances I come across ask very casually things like how much I make at work, what I work as and what my religion is. All this is actually very personal information and it is actually quite rude to ask about it.
We’re in such a transparent society, we sometimes need to remember that the right to privacy is a fundamental human right. This is the background for the passing of the Personal Data Protection Act.
Now, a company needs consent from you before using information about you, such as your photograph, contact information and private details.
However, the disappointment with the Personal Data Protection Act, is that it “generally does not apply to an employee acting in the course of employment”.
And just why not?!
The right to private information doesn’t just affect businesses needing consent to use your information. You also have a right to remind your employer about your right to privacy also! Your employer must make sure your personal data or information is processed in a fair and lawful way.
Your boss also should be careful in managing information about you such as political opinions, religion, sexuality, criminal offences and details about your personal life. This is because through the course of your work, you may have had to reveal some of these private things.
I have heard of some companies that install an app on company mobile phones that uses GPS to track where an employee is. This is a gross abuse of technology and is directly infringing on a right to privacy.
A friend of mine tells me that her internet and email is being monitored. Now, if she works in a bank, I understand. But she does normal marketing and branding work, so why is there a need to hound an employee like that? You need a right to privacy – what if you’re seeking details about a disease you don’t want anybody to know?
CCTVs are commonplace at retail outlets, but are a very invasive form of privacy. These video images should be accorded the same treatment as those protected by the Act. Today we find ourselves on sites such as Facebook and Stomp very often and these have resulted in psychological torture that have driven people to even take their lives.
I think the Personal Data Protection can go further and equip a few more things into legislation. I believe that your employer must tell you what personal information about you is being recorded, who is likely to use it and for what reason.
You have the right to respect for your private and family life, home and corporate dealings. Employers must acknowledge these rights are important to the individual and not use this data without consent.
The Editor: This is also good supplementary reading regarding the use of video cameras, from Bertha Henson’s blog http://berthahenson.wordpress.com/2014/07/14/in-another-persons-shoes/
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