A recent global study indicates that data-privacy governance and compliance are not all well and good in the small island.

More than half (54%) of Singapore’s consumers would pay more to do business with an organization that is committed to protecting data privacy—surpassing the same sentiments of those in Australia (44%), UK (49%) and Germany (41%), according to a survey.

The new data highlights public uncertainty and distrust around how organizations handle their data. Just one in 10 (11%) Singapore consumers placed trust in the ability of organizations to keep their personal data safe or private. This is despite increasingly-stringent standards for data privacy as new regulations emerge worldwide, including the 2018 introduction of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Severe GDPR infringements can result in fines of up to €20m or 4% of a company’s total global annual turnover, whichever is higher.

The survey was conducted through Google Surveys from April to May 2020. Commissioned by OpenText, 12,000 consumers were anonymously polled globally, across the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Canada, Australia and Singapore. The Singapore research polled 1,000 respondents to offer a snapshot of consumer perspectives on data privacy during the coronavirus crisis.

How Singapore stood out

From the results, it is noted that a majority (72%) of Singapore consumers “don’t have a clue” about how many organizations use, store or have access to their personal data, including their email addresses, contact numbers and bank details.

Yet, more than a third (37%) said they were very aware of the laws that protect their personal data—compared to those polled in Australia (36%), Spain (32%) and France (32%). An additional two fifths (40%) of Singapore respondents confirmed they had at least some understanding of these regulations.

Almost one third (32%) of Singapore consumers said they would proactively get in touch with an organization to see how it was using their personal data or to check if it was storing their personal data in a compliant manner. Nearly one fifth (17%) had already done so at least once.

Said Lou Blatt, Senior Vice President and CMO, OpenText: “Digital is now central to almost every business interaction—generating more data for companies to manage and secure. This shift, coupled with increased consumer data privacy expectations, means organizations are now under pressure to ensure that their data privacy solutions can scale appropriately for this digital-first era.”

Distrust of corporate data management

A majority (64%) of Singapore consumers felt that they knew how to keep their own data private and secure on apps, email accounts and social media platforms, from using privacy settings to turning off geolocation. Yet, one in five (18%) believed keeping their data private and secure on apps, email accounts and social media was the responsibility of the app or company in question.

Just one in six (16%) Singapore consumers believed they were already at the point when every business was meeting its legal obligations to keep customer data private. Similarly-few (16%) Singapore consumers saw this as a distant future or believed it will never happen.

Said OpenText’s VP for the Asia Pacific region Peter Bagge: “Beyond potential fines, any organization that fails to comply with data privacy laws risks losing the trust of their customers. Leaders must leverage technology that not only provides visibility into how they capture and secure data, but also allows them to respond rapidly to customers’ requests on how their personal data is being processed, collected, and used.” This will satisfy regulatory requirements, reduce the risk of reputational harm, and maintain customer trust, he said.