Dear A.S.S. Editor

In what was the first case of its kind in Singapore, a local firm has been warned by the Personal Data Protection Commission after a staff member disclosed personal information of a former employee in a WhatsApp group. The commission found that a director at Executive Coach International had shared highly sensitive information about the former employee’s drug problem and “issue with infidelity” with more than 50 members of a closed WhatsApp group.

Under the Personal Data Protection Act, it is an offence to collect, use or disclose personal data from an individual without consent. Breaches can draw penalties of up to $1 million or an order to ensure compliance, among other things. Let this be a lesson, even though the guilty party here is a director and a company. We should always think twice about sharing information on your fellow workers via a WhatsApp group, even though the group might be closed one.

Information are now easily shared in real time, with social media platforms like Facebook, and via instant messaging like WhatsApp. We always have to be mindful of what we share, or we might even break the law unwittingly.

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