On January 2013, the Personal Data Protection Commission (PDPC) was established to activate and enforce the Personal Data Protection Act of 2012 (PDPA). The PDPA is a law governing the collection, disclosure, and use of personal data today that will be fully in effect for event agencies in June 2014. Their job? To educate organizations and businesses as well as to promote public awareness for personal data protection while operating business in Singapore. This data protection also provides for a national Do-Not-Call Registry giving citizens the right to opt out of receiving marketing calls, texts, and faxes from work organizations. The PDPA was developed as a tool to push Singapore onto the world stage as an honest, well-trusted country from which to do business.
With access and information demands fueled by sophisticated technology and the marketing potential for all that personal information, our personal data has become a commodity. Addresses and phone numbers are sold and traded like silver coins on the precious metals market. As technology provides for ever expanding sophistication in technology and its capabilities, more and more of our private information will become available to those with unethical objectives. Singapore has made a gigantic step toward the safety and regulation of harvesting our citizen’s personal information. Along with the protection this offers individual citizens, events agencies like us will be directly impacted by the changes.
In the events management field, an events agency will often collect large amounts of personal data. An events manager will have access to event attendance names, addresses, and phone numbers among other bits of personal data. While there is some protection in the PDPA for business information obtained about employees, under no circumstances will events planners and managers have the right to use the personal information gathered by past clients. What does this mean for real world behaviors and business of Singapore’s events agencies?
Let’s say your first job was scheduling senior engineering students to attend workshops for those interested in Petroleum Engineering. As a conscientious events agency professional, you painstakingly recorded each student’s name, address, field of study, and desired type of employment. Now 10 years later you go to work for a software company who has developed a new application that will revolutionize the field of Petroleum Engineering. When planning an important software event, you remember the previous contact you had with petroleum engineers during your first job. With excitement you go back to all those years of students who had shown interest in Petroleum Engineering in college. You proceed to call each on their lists phone number or send invitations for purchase to their stated addresses. What was once considered an aggressive, well-accepted tactic in sales, is now a taboo and may result in lost jobs and court fines.
If your event entails hotel reservations and event registration, event managers may collect business names and work contact information, but personal information is now off the table for daily business affairs. This stipulation will impact event managers’ sales and networking activities. Events management is after all a sales driven force that requires supply and demand issues to be managed and molded with a razor sharp eye for detail.
The PDPA however, should not at all be just a bad news for businesses of any kind. Change is the only permanent thing in this world and learning how to adapt to the changes is the key to staying strong in the game. If one tactic stops working, there’ll always be some other ways out there. Just be creative and look for possible alternatives.
For example, event managers may find it helpful to focus on event and business information as steadfastly as their previous focus on personal information. While the PDPA will restrict further direct contact with individuals on their private communication devices, events professionals can freely contact the companies for whom event attendees work..
It appears that the name of the game from the PDPC is that “personal information” is restricted, and it should be replaced by “employer information” when engaging in the same management and contact techniques. The link below will provide each reader with a direct access to a simple primer on the PDPC AND PDPA. Remember “Personal Data” is a thing of the past for business in Singapore.