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Singapore’s consumer watchdog announces studies on data portability and online travel booking

Singapores consumer watchdog announces studies on data portability and online travel booking

The Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (CCCS) has announced
two new market studies into the online travel booking sector and data
portability. These initiatives were revealed
by Dr Koh Poh Koon, Senior Minister of State for Ministry Of Trade &
Industry and National Development at the official launch of the CCCS, which
was renamed as such from the Competition Commission of Singapore. The agency has
taken on the responsibility of administering the Consumer Protection (Fair
Trading) Act (Chapter 52A) or CPFTA with effect from 1 April 2018, in addition
to the the Competition Act (Cap. 50B).

Joint study with the Personal Data Protection Commission
on data portability

One of the key initiatives is a joint one with the Personal
Data Protection Commission (PDPC). The two agencies will be working together to
study consumer protection, competition and personal data protection issues,
which could arise if a data portability requirement is introduced in Singapore.

Internationally, several jurisdictions have provided, or are
considering providing for a right to data portability. This will enable individual
consumers to request for the personal data and other data which they have
provided to a service provider, in a format which is structured, commonly used
and machine-readable. This empowers consumers and allows them more control over
their personal data.

It enhances the ability of consumers to choose between service
providers and, facilitates switching providers, once they have made that choice,
as it eliminates the need to repeatedly provide their details each time they
switch providers. Thus, data portability can lead to better competition and
more convenience for consumers.

In addition, the right to data portability could extend to
requiring service providers to transmit the personal data to another service
provider without hindrance, where it is technically feasible. The ease of
switching will in turn foster competition between service providers and also
encourage them to innovate and develop new services, resulting in more choices
for consumers.

Study on the online travel booking sector

CCCS will also be conducting a market study into the online
travel booking sector, to take a closer look at whether the market is
functioning well.

Singaporeans are increasingly well-travelled and they are
using online travel booking platforms as a key channel to search and purchase travel-related
products, including air tickets and accommodation, other than purchasing
directly from the service providers, for example the hotels and airlines.

CCCS’s market study will focus on understanding the industry
landscape relating to both the provision of flight tickets and hotel
accommodation in Singapore. This will help CCCS to understand how commercial
practices and arrangements in the online travel sector impacts competition and
consumers in Singapore.

In particular, CCCS intends to look into the types of
commercial arrangements entered into between third party online travel booking
platforms and the service providers, including how such commercial arrangements
are negotiated and applied in Singapore. It will also study competition between
online travel booking platforms and service providers.

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