IV.A Ownership of information in the paperless trade system

Paperless trade facilitation involves the collection and exchange of a large amount of information. Delicate issues arise with respect to data subject rights, confidentiality and other rights on that information. For instance, the paperless trade system operator may acquire the right to use, analyse and redistribute the information submitted to the system. In other cases, the system may be designed to avoid the storage of any information, so as to simplify compliance with privacy and data retention laws.

IV.A.1 What defines rights regarding information exchanged in the paperless trade system, the law or contractual agreements?

Private sector participants in paperless trade, government agencies, service providers, other intermediaries and other third parties (such as a software developer) may have some type of interest (such as intellectual property) in the information exchanged, filed or stored in the paperless trade system. For instance, government agencies that participate in a trading system may have rights in the information retained in the system. Clear legislative and contractual rules governing the use and redistribution or sharing of information submitted to a paperless trade system are therefore important for its operation.

Laws, regulations and contractual arrangements may spell out the rights to information exchanged in a paperless trade system, including access and control. In particular, laws on the protection of business secrets as well as on enforcement of intellectual property rights, including under Part III of the WTO Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement, may affect the rights to information exchanged in the paperless trade system.

For example, the information submitted to a paperless trade system may need to be kept confidential and not be disclosed or otherwise be made available to others without a valid reason (such as a regulatory interest) and consistently with the purpose of the submission.

Section 89 of the Customs Act 2004 (Cap. 70) (Singapore) prohibits information collected for a specified and lawful purpose from being shared for another purpose without prior consent of the supplier of the information, unless such sharing is required for a specific purpose authorized by law.

Further, section 28 of the Electronic Transactions Act 2010 (Cap. 88) (Singapore) specifies the conditions under which information collected in the performance of duty can be used and disclosed.

28. Obligation of confidentiality

1) No person shall disclose any information which has been obtained by him in the performance of his duties or the exercise of his powers under this Act, unless such disclosure is made —

a) with the permission of the person from whom the information is obtained or, where the information is the confidential information of a third person, with the permission of the third person;

b) for the purpose of the administration or enforcement of this Act;

c) for the purpose of assisting any public officer or officer of any other statutory board in the investigation or prosecution of any offence under any written law; or

d) in compliance with the requirement of any court or the provisions of any written law.

Terms and conditions for the use and operation of the paperless trade system may also define the rights to information of the system operator and of other participants. Such contractual terms would therefore limit the ability of the system operator to share information. Any agreement between the system operator and the third-party software developer or vendor may also be relevant to the rights in information exchanged in the paperless trade system.

Please describe any condition and limitation as well relating to the rights to information exchanged in the paperless trade system.