Singapore restructures media, telecommunications and personal data regulators; digital business to benefit

Written on 30 Sep 2016

This article is written by and published on behalf of Director Koh Chia Ling and Senior Associate Gerald Tan of OC Queen Street.

A. The Restructuring

Singapore’s Infocomm Development Authority (“IDA”) and Media Development Authority (“MDA”) will be restructured to form the Infocomm Media Development Authority (“IMDA”) and the Government Technology Organisation (“GovTech”), confirming an earlier statement made in January 2016 to the same effect.

Additionally, the Personal Data Protection Commission (“PDPC”) would be brought under the oversight of the IMDA.

The IMDA officially comes into being on 1 October 2016, with the IDA and the MDA ceasing to exist. They follow the launch of the Infocomm Media 2025 plan in August 2015, which recognises the increasing centripetal force of the digital economy exerted across a wide range of sectors and the rapidly-increasing expansion of tech, media and comms businesses.

B. Regulatory functions

Under the IDA / MDA regime, telecommunications licensing and regulatory issues was under the purview of IDA, while MDA exercised licensing power over the media landscape. The new IMDA brings together the regulatory functions of the IDA and the MDA. The regulatory process is thus expected to be more streamlined, and companies in the digital space would hopefully benefit from this. By bringing together info-communications and media oversight into one single authority in the IMDA, convergent tech, media and comms businesses would cease to have to deal with separate info-communications and media regulatory agencies.

Since the coming into force of the Personal Data Protection Act 2012, personal data protection concerns have been key among many tech, media and comms businesses. By including the PDPC under the new IMDA, personal data protection oversight is brought into the same fold as media and info-communications technology concerns, thus allowing for a greater convergence and synergies in regulatory oversight over tech, media and comms businesses.

C. Policy functions and the development of the “Smart Nation” plan

In Singapore’s push to become a “Smart Nation”, GovTech is set to play a central role. It will be involved in helping to develop technologies that assist in productivity and functionality.

The IMDA would also be involved with technology start-ups, assisting in their funding and deployment of these start-ups’ services.


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