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Are you one of those who think that Asians are very different from Americans and Europeans, at least with respect to personal data and privacy? Did you think that an Asian would have different views about personal data and privacy? Well, NogginAsia ( decided to test the above hypothesis by commissioning a survey (a first of its kind in Singapore).

The Personal Data Paradox: Surveys done in the US (eg: Pew survey or EMC survey) and Europe (Eurobarometer survey) have revealed that consumers are worried about the level of intrusion into their lives and the amount of personal data/habits being captured by internet providers/telcos/ecommerce/any digital service provider. They would rather not share such information. On the other hand, they complain that the information they receive from various corporations are often not personalized and makes no sense to them!

The objectives of the Survey: Do Singaporeans care about personal data and privacy? Is the a above paradox true in Singapore?

Brief Results:

1. The survey revealed that the following, with respect to respondents’ reactions, when they are asked about their willingness to share certain personal details:

Comfortable in sharing Not comfortable in sharing
Anything that is not so personal to them such as:

–       Marital status

–       Number of children

–       Political views

–       Celebrities they follow

Anything that could be traced back to them and quite personal, such as:

–       Email details

–       Phone number/Address

–       Medical records

–       Financial investments

Singaporeans feel that they would avoid sharing such information, if possible

In summary, over 85% of respondents were comfortable in sharing information that wasn’t considered as very personal to them, as seen in column 1 above (against the 4 questions in the column). And as could be seen in column 2, over two-thirds of respondents weren’t comfortable in sharing information that could be traced back to them (against the other 4 questions in column 2).

2. DNC signup: PDPA has been around for 3 years. Several corporations may have adapted to PDPA. Some corporations have been levied penalties for violating PDPA. So, the survey addressed the basic requirement in PDPA, i.e., about DNC (Do-Not-Call Registry). Did the respondent sign up for DNC registry? While the chart below shows the results, it is important to note that 22% have never heard of DNC! Only 43% have signed up. And 27% did not.


3. Basic privacy related actions: The chart below shows that a significant number of respondents do not want to share personal information or at least care about such information. In other words, Singapore is no different from the West when it comes to sharing personal information. As the chart shows, while 60% of respondents said that they turn off location on social media, about 75% tried blocking ads.


4. The other side of the paradox: Nearly 85% of the respondents felt that they would like to control the kind of personal information they would like to share with corporations. Only 50% of the respondents were comfortable in sharing information against special offers. In other words, the personal data paradox is INDEED VALID in the Singaporean context!

5. Some thoughts based on the above: Should marketers in Singapore continue to spend on location based digital and online advertising? How would they respond as it’s clear that Singaporeans do care about personal data and privacy? With 80% of the respondents claiming that they consider any form of email advertising as spam, how could marketers respond? Write to us at with your thoughts on marketing under the new Personal Data Paradigm. You may also share your thoughts on our FB page or our linkedin page

You feel safe with your personal data, as a result of strict PDPA implementation and having taken precautions such as not sharing data with any strange caller or website.

How sure are you? (Hint: It’s near impossible to safeguard your personal data)

You download the latest cool app or join the millions using some popular social media.  You see on the screen that you are asked for access permission to your contacts, photos, practically everything and you keep pressing “yes” either out of impatience or disinterest. You wonder why all these hurdles are required to download the app or social media.

Congratulations! You have “legally” breached your own safeguards and have chosen to make your personal data, public. Under the guise of providing you better services, several websites or browsers or search engines, capture your personal data and earn billions out of you.

The PDPA act states that organizations should not, as a condition of supplying a product or service, require you to consent to the collection, use or disclosure of personal data beyond what is reasonable to provide that product or service to you. However, if someone uses a sweeping statement such as “better service”, do you have a choice?

Of course, you had the choice to answer “No” to the access. Try answering “No” and find out whether you are eligible for such services and if not eligible, how many of you would choose to complain to PDPC?

Even accepting a location access to software (you may wonder about the link between location and personal data) is a high risk activity. A recent MIT study by de Montjoye et al, showed that 4 spatio-temporal points, approximate places and times, are enough to uniquely identify 95% of 1.5 m people in a mobility database! The study further shows that these constraints hold even when the resolution of the dataset is low. Therefore, even coarse or blurred datasets provide little anonymity.

A leading search engine was fined € 100 K in March 2016 for not scrubbing web search results widely enough in response to a European privacy ruling. In short, the scrubbing was done across its French and German domains but not on its international domains. The ruling was based on “a person’s right to privacy could not depend on the geographic origin of those viewing the search results”.

How about the privacy of those living in Asia?

What can you, as an individual, do? Frankly, little. Of course, follow PDPA strictly and make sure that you control the information you give out.

Noggin Asia is launching Podsense. A unique way to not only safeguard your data, but also allowing controlled access to marketers for better deals and best of all, you earn money!

If you can’t beat em, join em!

By Kimberly A. Whitler

This piece was cowritten with Virginia Covo.

Data privacy has turned into one of the most important, hotly debated topics globally. And while lawyers, governmental officials and technology experts weigh in, the people who should be most concerned, involved, and engaged are marketers. According to a Deloitte report, 73% of consumers would reconsider using a company if it failed to keep their data safe (this compares to only 51% who would switch companies if they were charged a higher price than competitors for a similar product).

This is a consumer problem, meaning that it is a marketing problem. How data is collected, how it is used, what companies do with the data, and with whom they share it all impacts the consumer’s experience. And while marketing should arguably lead enterprise-wide thinking on the topic, few do.

To better understand the nature, importance, and ramifications of the personal data revolution, we turned to Addison Deitz, EVP/Director of Global Operations and Client Support, and Jessie Kernan, Global Head of Data and Strategy, both from Rapp.

Kimberly Whitler: You suggested that the global market is on the verge of a personal data revolution. What do you mean by that?

Addison Deitz and Jessie Kernan:  What we mean is that we are on the verge of a revolution — one in which individuals have absolute control over their own data.  Giving people more control means that opt-in and first-party data management become much more important to brands.  It also signifies a shift in power away from the “walled gardens” (the large data companies that collect and sell third party data) toward individuals who understand the value of their personal data and are able to monetize it themselves. Taking this a step further, we envision a global market for individual data, where people themselves profit by selling their own data (there are already isolated examples of this).

Whitler: Is this revolution happening globally—or being led in one regions?

Deitz and Kernan:  The U.S., interestingly, lags way behind most other markets in terms of privacy law.  The EU has pending legislation that will set the benchmark for the most stringent data privacy laws globally.  Canada, Belgium, Denmark and many other countries have begun aggressively going after violators.  In those markets, it’s no longer enough to offer an opt-out…you have to actually get someone to opt in before you can market to them.  That’s significant for a marketing industry that assumes a relationship with the customer just because we have data.

[Source: ]

Fined for leaking 8,000 people’s personal data

Printing firm hired by insurer among eight parties rapped for personal data breaches

We live our lives through social networks, and the authorities have taken advantage of that.

by Jamie Condliffe

Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram supplied police in Ferguson and Baltimore with data that was used to track minorities, according to an investigation by the American Civil Liberties Union. But such snooping is increasingly inevitable, unless our use of social media changes.

The investigation reveals that the companies packaged up and provided data from public posts to a company called Geofeedia. Instagram provided access to an API that allowed Geofeedia to see all public posts, including location data; Facebook provided access to its so-called Topic Feed API, which provides ranked streams of public posts that mention specific topics; and Twitter provided access to its searchable database of public tweets.

Geofeedia has made a name for itself by analyzing this kind of digital content to provide surveillance information to law enforcement agencies, and claims to have at least 500 clients. Along the way, it seems to have targeted activists of color. In one e-mail chain with a potential police client, a Geofeedia representative boasted that the company had “covered Ferguson/Mike Brown nationally with great success.”

Speaking to the Washington Post, the ACLU’s Nicole Ozer explained that the Union considers this to be unacceptable:

“These platforms need to be doing more to protect the free speech rights of activists of color and stop facilitating their surveillance by police. The ACLU shouldn’t have to tell Facebook or Twitter what their own developers are doing. The companies need to enact strong public policies and robust auditing procedures to ensure their platforms aren’t being used for discriminatory surveillance.”

For their part, the companies have all cut off, or at least modified, their supply of data to Geofeedia since the investigation was carried out.

But what’s particularly troubling about the report is that much of this data is already public and, theoretically at least, still accessible by Geofeedia—just with rather more effort and, admittedly, a violation of the terms of service of the social networks if it is “scraped.” If someone needs that data, though, it is certainly accessible, and some may even be willing to flout such restrictions.

The news, then, is a reminder of how we all enable a surveillance society by simply choosing to use social networks. Of course, digital snoopinghas been an issue for as long as we’ve been digitizing our lives. But as more people share their lives online, it becomes easier to keep a watchful eye on what the world is doing.

There are solutions to the problem. One is to keep social network accounts locked so that the data isn’t open for others to read, then ensure that social networks don’t share it. But while that may work on, say, Facebook, where individuals are often unwilling for just anyone to happen upon their drunken party snaps, it’s less likely to work on Twitter, where part of the charm is the open nature of communication.

Perhaps better may be to wean ourselves off of social media. If we could do that, even just a little, its power for spying could perhaps be diminished. That’s something that Tristan Harris, an ex-Googler, wants to do, though not because of privacy concerns: he’s interested in feeling less beholden to the smartphone generally, as the Atlantic reports. But his radical idea to stop software from being so addictive—by introducing new criteria, standards, and even a Hippocratic oath for software designers—could go some way to making us less reliant on social media.

Looks like we might need it—and rather that than going cold Twitter bird.

(Read more: ACLU, The Washington Post, The Atlantic)



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