September 21, 2017

“Failure to comply can have serious consequences,” shares Head of Intellectual Property & Technology Jonathan Kok in his opinion piece on the European Union General Data Protection Regulation as featured in The Business Times

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing Head of Intellectual Propoerty & Technology Jonathan Kok authored an opinion piece titled "How Singapore SMEs should prepare for EU general data protection regulation" published in The Business Times. The article was first published in The Business Times on 19 September 2017. How Singapore SMEs should prepare for EU general data protection regulation Source: The Business Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Date: 19 September 2017 Author: Jonathan Kok SINGAPORE'S small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that have business dealings with clients based in the European Union (EU) will need to keep an important date in mind - May 25, 2018. That is the day the new legal framework, the European Union (EU) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), will come into force across the EU to protect all EU citizens and residents from privacy and data breaches by giving them greater control over the organisations that can use their personal data. This means that, in about 10 months, all organisations - whether in the EU or anywhere else - must adhere to the GDPR regulation as long as they collect and process personal data of EU citizens and residents. Given that the EU accounts for 10 per cent of Singapore's total trade and with bilateral trade standing at about S$91 billion in 2015, the importance of being GDPR-ready cannot be discounted. A global study by Veritas Technologies reported that 92 per cent of organisations in Singapore were concerned about not complying with the GDPR when it comes into effect next year; 56 per cent of businesses were afraid of being unable to meet the regulatory deadlines. Failure to comply can have serious consequences, especially for SMEs. The GDPR introduces a tiered approach to fines. For example, a company which does not have its records in order can be fined 10 million euros (S$16.07 million) or 2 per cent of its total global turnover of the preceding financial year, whichever is higher. Fines are also imposed if the firm fails to notify the supervising authority and the data subject about a breach, or if it fails to conduct a Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA). Organisations in breach of the GDPR can be fined up to a maximum of 4 per cent of their annual global turnover or 20 million euros of the preceding financial year, whichever is higher. GDPR requirements With the GDPR introducing some fairly stringent requirements in relation to the protection of personal data, SMEs need to be familiar with what the new regulations are. Firstly, organisations covered by the GDPR must employ a Data Protection Officer (DPO), who is responsible for ensuring that the organisation collects and secures personal data responsibly. Secondly, individuals have more rights over how organisations use their personal data. They have the "right to be forgotten" if they either withdraw their consent for the use of their personal data or if keeping their personal data is no longer required. Organisations must immediately report breaches in data security to the relevant data protection authority in the EU. Ideally, the report should be made within 24 hours of the discovery of the breach; if that is not possible, within 72 hours. Keep in mind that consent for a particular use of the personal data must now be explicitly given before this data can be used for that purpose. The previous practice of taking silence or a failure to opt out to be "deemed consent" is no longer considered as valid consent. This new requirement will be applied retroactively; personal data previously collected without meeting this new requirement cannot be used unless express consent is obtained. An organisation with fewer than 250 employees is not required to comply with the GDPR. However, the GDPR still applies to SMEs with fewer than 250 employees that either routinely process personal data that is likely to result in a risk to the rights and freedoms of EU data subjects or process special categories of data relating to criminal convictions and offences. The special categories of data include health data, information on individuals' racial or ethnic origin, political affiliations, religious beliefs, genetic and biometric data and sexual orientation. The GDPR will apply to both controllers and processors of data. A data controller determines the purposes, conditions and means of processing the personal data; a data processor processes personal data on behalf of the controller. The GDPR places more legal obligations and liabilities on controllers than on processors. Controllers will need to ensure that their contracts with processors require the processors to comply with the obligations under the GDPR. Under the GDPR, personal data is any information that relates to a natural person or data subject that can be used to directly or indirectly identify that person. Such information can include a name, a photo, an e-mail address, bank details, posts on social media websites, medical information, or a computer IP address. Preparing to be GDPR-ready With personal data being used widely from marketing to customer relationship management, SMEs will need to rethink the way they manage and protect personal data in order to comply with the GDPR. For a start, they need to appoint a DPO, who need not be a full-time employee, and whose function can be outsourced depending on the organisation's needs. Ensure that all personal data is stored responsibly and securely, and all data-security arrangements are regularly reviewed and updated. Measures such as PIAs, which assess where privacy risks exist and how to minimise them, are essential, especially for controllers. Review the consent that was given when the personal data was collected. If the data was collected under "opt out" or other mechanisms which are no longer valid under the GDPR, the organisation must cease using the personal data unless further express consent is obtained. The organisation must update its privacy policies as the GDPR requires them to inform individuals of their new rights under the GDPR. Last but not least, the organisation should put in place plans to deal with a data breach. This will mean knowing what personal data the organisation is holding, where it is stored, who has access to it, and how to spot breaches when they occur, as well as to whom the breach must be reported. The organisation should also consider installing new technology that can provide a comprehensive approach to data identification and security. Understanding what personal data is held and where this is stored will help in monitoring compliance and the processes involved in dealing with the personal data. Given the heavy fines for non-compliance, Singapore SMEs must ensure that they have implemented privacy by design internally and externally, and put in place policies that ensure internal and external compliance with the obligations of the GDPR.
September 20, 2017

The 3rd ASEAN Summit organised by RHTLaw Taylor Wessing carried strong themes across innovation, e-commerce and the digital economy, as published in The Straits Times

The 3rd ASEAN Summit organised by RHTLaw Taylor Wessing carried strong themes across innovation, e-commerce and the digital economy, as published in The Straits Times. The article was first published in The Straits Times on 20 September 2017. Digital economy a focus for Singapore as Asean chair Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Date: 20 September 2017 Author: Chia Yan Min E-commerce and the digital economy will be a key focus for Singapore when it takes over the Asean chairmanship next year. Ms Low Yen Ling, Senior Parliamentary Secretary (Ministry of Trade and Industry, and Ministry of Education), yesterday said the country will also work to improve trade facilitation in a bid to help companies expand internationally. The Asean Economic Community (AEC) "remains the cornerstone of Singapore's foreign economic policy", Ms Low told about 250 delegates at the Asean Summit. Asean has consistently been Singapore's largest trading partner, accounting for about a quarter of its international trade. Since its founding in 1967, Asean's share of global gross domestic product has almost doubled from 3.3 per cent in 1967 to 6.2 per cent last year. Asean is also the sixth largest economy in the world with a combined GDP of US$2.55 trillion (S$3.5 trillion). The Philippines is the current chair of Asean. Ms Low said Singapore will work closely with other Asean members to promote innovation, build up digital connectivity and facilitate e-commerce flows to benefit businesses, especially micro, small and medium-sized enterprises. STAYING NIMBLE This will include streamlining regional trade rules governing e-commerce to promote greater digital connectivity and lowering barriers to entry to allow seamless movement of e-commerce goods. Singapore also intends to focus on helping Asean businesses lower the administrative costs of trade, for instance by expediting Customs clearance via electronic exchange of information across borders. During its chairmanship, Singapore will also look to continue building up the region's ties with external partners while preserving Asean centrality, said Ms Low. Asean has maintained longstanding relations with its six dialogue partners - Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea. Negotiations are also ongoing for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement. "Asean businesses will drive the AEC while governments of the Asean member states play the role of catalysts to support their internationalisation," Ms Low said. "Businesses will therefore need to continue to be nimble and adaptable, and attuned to new trends emerging from disruptive technologies and global developments." The summit at the Suntec Convention Centre was hosted by RHTLaw Taylor Wessing.
September 20, 2017

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing Deputy Managing Partner and Chairman of ASEAN Plus Group Azman Jaafar addresses Singapore’s push towards a digital economy as timely, at the Firm’s 3rd ASEAN Summit as featured in TODAY

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing Deputy Managing Partner and Chairman of ASEAN Plus Group Azman Jaafar addresses Singapore’s push towards a digital economy as timely, at the Firm's 3rd ASEAN Summit as featured in TODAY. This article was first published in TODAY on 20 September 2017. E-commerce a top focus when S’pore chairs Asean Source: TODAY © Mediacorp Press Ltd. Date: 20 September 2017 SINGAPORE — E-commerce and the digital economy will be the key points of focus when Singapore takes over the chairmanship of the Association of South-east Asian Nations (Asean) next year, Ms Low Yen Ling, Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Trade and Industry and Ministry of Education, said yesterday. Addressing the Asean Summit 2017 hosted by legal firm RHTLaw Taylor Wessing, Ms Low highlighted the importance of the Asean Economic Community (AEC) and the Republic’s efforts to open up business opportunities for small and medium-sized companies in the region. “The AEC remains the cornerstone of Singapore’s foreign economic policy. Asean has consistently been Singapore’s largest trading partner, accounting for 25.7 per cent (S$217 billion) of Singapore’s world trade,” noted Ms Low. With an annual gross domestic product (GDP) growth of between 4.5 and 6.1 per cent from 2012 to 2016, Asean is expected to grow at a yearly average of 5.2 per cent in the period 2017 to 2020. “Innovation and e-commerce present immense opportunities as new growth sectors and enablers that businesses can tap into,” said Ms Low. Highlighting the example of e-commerce start-up ShopBack, Ms Low noted how the local company successfully immersed itself in regional markets and established partnerships with merchants in Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand. Singapore will work closely with Asean member states to promote innovation, build digital connectivity and facilitate e-commerce flows into the region to benefit businesses — especially the micro, small and medium-sized enterprises — Ms Low said. Mr Azman Jaafar, deputy managing partner and chairman of Asean Plus Group, RHTLaw Taylor Wessing said: “Singapore’s push towards prioritising the digital economy is timely, given that most Asean countries are now primed to jump onto the digital bandwagon given the rise of the Asian middle class and increasing Internet penetration rates.” The Republic will also work closely with other Asean member states towards the realisation of an Asean-wide self-certification regime and the Asean single window. Tariff concessions and expedited customs clearance via the electronic exchange of information across borders will lower administrative barriers and improve the movement of goods and services across the region, added Ms Low. Speaking at a panel discussion during the summit, Mr Ngurah Swajaya, Indonesia’s Ambassador to Singapore, noted the potential for a digital economy in Indonesia is huge. He cited the example of ride-hailing firm Go Jek as a new breed of businesses tapping into the digital economy. Operating in more than 25 cities in Indonesia, Go Jek’s motorcycle taxis transport people as well as goods and services, including the delivery of groceries and food. Mr Antonio Morales, the Philippines’ Ambassador to Singapore, said the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement, to be completed this year or next, is the most important trade agreement since the demise of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. When approved, the RCEP will cover 3.5 billion people, making it the world’s largest market in terms of population and third in the world in terms of GDP and total trade. Economists forecast that if the RCEP is concluded, it would boost regional GDP by close to 2 per cent, Mr Morales added.
September 20, 2017

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing Deputy Managing Partner and Chairman of ASEAN Plus Group Azman Jaafar expresses the importance of ASEAN to be a rules-based organisation as a coping strategy in response to the changing business environment, in The Jakarta Post

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing Deputy Managing Partner and Chairman of ASEAN Plus Group Azman Jaafar was featured in an article published by The Jakarta Post. The article was first published on 20 September 2017. Greater Integration Vital for Asean to Benefit Business More Source: The Jakarta Post © Date: 20 September 2017 Author: Linda Yulisman Greater integration vital for ASEAN to benefit business more With sound economic fundamentals, ASEAN appears to have a promising outlook ahead. Celebrating 50 years since it was founded this year, the group has become the world’s sixth-largest economy with a combined income of US$2.55 trillion and it is estimated to expand by 5.2 percent in the coming years. Deeper economic integration, which began with the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community at the end of 2015, is seen as a way for the 10-member bloc with a population of more than 500 million to further unlock its potential and better benefit business. Singapore’s senior parliamentary secretary for the ministry of education and ministry of trade an industry, Low Yen Ling, said that greater integration would provide enormous opportunities for business people across the region. “ASEAN’s journey into deepening economic integration is a continuous journey,” she said on the sidelines of ASEAN Summit 2017, organised by Singapore-based international law firm RHTLaw Taylor Wessing. “It will always be a work in progress, something to work on together, and that is also a reflection of the rapidly changing world, not just in ASEAN, but also outside of the region.” The Southeast Asian grouping has benefitted from the free flow of goods across its borders without tariffs in the past decade. It has also undertaken efforts to improve the ease of exporting in a wide range of sectors, such as automotive, cosmetics and medical equipment through reducing and simplifying regulations. In its latest move in August, ASEAN launched an online portal – ASEAN Solutions for Investment, Services and Trade (ASSIST) – to allow companies to voice their concerns over non-tariff measures that impede trading of good within the region. Low further said that when taking the ASEAN chairmanship next year, Singapore aimed to push for initiatives on e-commerce and the digital economyy in order to provide greater benefits for business, particularly micro, small and medium enterprises. Vice president for public sector and government practice at consulting firm Frost & Sullivan, Richard Won, said that it would be crucial for ASEAN to bring a real impact to the private sector as a way to make the grouping more relevant to business. It would be, therefore, necessary for the grouping to address two critical issues faced by businesspeople, namely the cost of doing business and the regulatory environment, he added. “If we can help to reduce costs, make it easier to register business and increase trade and services, and also to have transparent rules within the bloc, that will be a dream come true for many businesses in the region,” he said. The group is working on the creation of ASEAN Single Window that will enable exporters across the region to expedite customs clearance through online exchange of information between the member countries. Since a few years ago, it has simplified the procedure for exporters seeking a certificate of origin for their products, a requirement to enjoy exemption of tariffs, through an online self-certification scheme. Deputy managing partner and chairman of ASEAN Plus Group at RHTLaw Taylor Wessing Azman Jaafar acknowledged that it would be important for ASEAN to become a rules-based organisation, partly to cope with the changing business environment in the past two decades. “It is not good for us to rely on the old ways of allowing personal judgement to get in the way of decision-making for business,” he told The Jakarta Post. “If a business needs to be in a particular country, I think a rules-based economy would be very helpful instead of thinking about what we have to go to get the