What is Personal Data?
Personal data refers to data, whether true or not, about an individual who can be identified from that data; or from that data and other information to which the organization has or is likely to have access. Personal data in Singapore is protected under the Personal Data Protection Act 2012 (PDPA).
The PDPA establishes a data protection law that comprises various rules governing the collection, use, disclosure and care of personal data. It recognizes both the rights of individuals to protect their personal data, including rights of access and correction, and the needs of organizations to collect, use or disclose personal data for legitimate and reasonable purposes.
How does the Personal Data Protection Act work?
The PDPA will ensure a baseline standard of protection for personal data by complementing sector-specific legislative and regulatory frameworks. This means that organizations will have to comply with the PDPA as well as the common law and other relevant laws that are applied to the specific industry that they belong to, when handling personal data in their possession.
The PDPA takes into account the following concepts:
Consent – Organizations may collect, use or disclose personal data only with the individual's knowledge and consent (with some exceptions);
Purpose – Organizations may collect, use or disclose personal data in an appropriate manner for the circumstances, and only if they have informed the individual of purposes for the collection, use or disclosure; and
Reasonableness – Organizations may collect, use or disclose personal data only for purposes that would be considered appropriate to a reasonable person in the given circumstances.
Legally and ethically, the relationship between the psychologist and clients is of a confidential nature. This means that the expressed information given to the psychologist cannot be divulged by the psychologist to anyone without the client’s expressed, written consent except in the event that a clear and present danger of physical harm to the client and/or others becomes apparent, or in situations where separate parents share custody of a child under court order such that each parent may be provided access to the record of the child, or in situations where the psychologist becomes aware that a person under the age of 18 is being molested or physically abused. In these situations, it is the psychologist’s professional and legal obligation to inform the proper authorities according to the Singapore law. All other information discussed in counseling sessions is confidential unless ordered by a court of law.