Thursday, 15 February 2007

Questions for Written Answers: 15 February 2007

I posed these 2 WPQs partly out of professional curiosity, and also because I thought an update was warranted.

The Spam Control Bill was introduced into Parliament after I filed the first WPQ -- I certainly intend to speak on it, having been involved in the two public consultation exercises in 2004 and 2005.

Meanwhile, the Competition Commission came into existence on 1 January 2005 and two of the three effective parts of the Competition Act came into force on 1 January 2006, but to date the only action by the CCS on public record has been the Qantas-Orangestar decision. It will be very, very interesting to see what comes out of the formal investigations.

WPQ #1

(Spam Control Bill, Data Protection and Electronic Transactions Act)

Mr Siew Kum Hong: To ask the Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts if he will provide an update on the status of the proposed Spam Control Bill, the proposed data protection legislation, and the proposed revisions to the Electronic Transactions Act, and when these pieces of legislation will be introduced.

Dr Lee Boon Yang: In response to NMP Siew’s query on the status of three pieces of proposed legislation, please allow me to update the House on their respective progress.

Spam Control Bill

The Spam Control Bill has been tabled for its First Reading at the 12 February sitting of Parliament.

Electronic Transactions (Amendment) Bill

Arising from further consultations conducted last year with stakeholders in the interactive and digital media sector, my Ministry has received feedback from the industry and academia that legal certainty for the extent of civil liability or immunity for online service providers is an important issue. Since then, my Ministry has undertaken a detailed study on the issue and we are currently working with the Attorney-General Chambers to incorporate provisions into the Electronic Transactions (Amendment) Bill to address these concerns. The revised Bill is expected to be ready for a final round of public consultation in the second half of this year.

I would like to inform the House that Singapore has signed the UN Commission on International Trade Law (“UNCITRAL”) Convention on the Use of Electronic Communications in International Contracts in July last year. The impending revisions to the Electronic Transactions Act will bring the regulatory framework for electronics transactions in Singapore in line with the Convention.

Data Protection

In February last year, I informed the House that an Inter-Ministry Committee had been set up to review Singapore’s data protection regime. As data protection is a complex issue with extensive impact on businesses and general public, the review is still on-going and will take some time. We need to study more closely the experiences of countries which had introduced such legislation. This will enable us to develop a data protection law which will be relevant to our context in addressing our privacy concerns, economic requirements and national interest.

WPQ #2

(Complaints and Investigations)

Mr Siew Kum Hong: To ask the Minister for Trade and Industry (a) how many complaints and notifications for guidance has the Competition Commission received to date; (b) how many investigations has the Competition Commission initiated to date; and (c) what is the current status of these complaints, notifications for guidance and investigations.

Mr Lim Hng Kiang: The Competition Commission of Singapore (CCS) has received twelve complaints and seven notifications for guidance since 1 January 2006, when the prohibitions under the Competition Act came into force.

The CCS has assessed and issued its guidance on three notifications. Assessment of the remaining is ongoing.

The CCS has closed five complaints. It has initiated formal investigations into three, after establishing that there are reasonable grounds for suspecting an infringement of the Act. Investigations are ongoing. For the remaining, the CCS is in the process of assessing if there are reasonable grounds for suspecting an infringement of the Act.

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