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Personal Data Protection Commission rolls out new DPO training framework

The Personal Data Protection Commission (PDPC) has revealed a world-first competency framework and training roadmap for data protection officers (DPO). They are becoming an increasingly vital member of organisations.

This framework is designed to streamline data protection training for DPOs, among organisations in Singapore, such that they achieve the desired standards. It is not surprising that organisations are starting to see how much data protection practices contribute to business growth and innovation. The PDPC said that the job scopes of DPOs have expanded since.

The Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) mandates that every organisation appoints a DPO to oversee and protect data in organisations.

Minister for Communications and Information S Iswaran announced this new framework at the Personal Data Protection Seminar on Wednesday, July 17. He said that the new framework clearly lists the set of skills that DPOs should possess. This is required across entry-level officers in small companies to those with regional responsibilities.

It will act as a career path guide, listing the competencies required of DPOs as they upgrade in their positions.

Business owners can also refer to this framework to aid them in making hiring decisions and planning the training for DPOs and data protection teams.

Mr Iswaran stressed that businesses should see data protection as a compliance requirement than a cost.

“That would take a very limiting approach in our attitude towards data as a resource. Rather, if we manage this well, the management of data can be a source of business competitiveness and a means to create new opportunities,” he said.

An industry survey by the PDPC found that 39 percent of organisations flagged concerns over whether their DPOs are equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge for reducing the risks of data breaches and recover from them.

Challenges in data protection

DPOs have different levels of understanding of what is allowed or not when collecting personal data. Ms Eunice Toh, executive director of the Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) Community Fund, said that this standardised training framework will be helpful in maintaining procedures such as obtaining consent.

As the designated DPO of the charity arm of TTSH, Ms Toh understands that there could be different interpretations by DPOs when one is giving their consent for data collection. She said that in the case of working with beneficiaries, a person may wish to disclose that they are a patient, but not their condition. DPOs must be given the training to help them differentiate and make the right decisions.

New career paths

This new framework can provide new career opportunities and career progression pathways for aspiring and current DPOs, said National Trades union Congress (NTUC) assistant secretary-general Patrick Tay.

PDPC will be working together with NTUC, Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) and NTUC LearningHub to launch a 12-month pilot programme for DPO.

An earlier OpenGov article reported that the PDPC released a new Guide to Accountability when managing personal data. This guide was created to better aid organisations in developing accountable data protection practices. It is focused on three broad areas: Organisation, industry, and enforcement. It comes with examples and resources that organisations may use to apply accountability concepts into practical steps they can adopt.

Details on this DPO training framework can be found on PDPC’s website.


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