‘Avoid a Mad Scramble’


In anticipation of the General Data Protection Regulation laws (GDPR), Singapore Association of Convention & Exhibition Organisers & Suppliers President Janet Tan-Collis highlights the importance of data protection in the events industry.

It is critical that the events industry, or any other industry that revolves around personal data, upholds the integrity that society expects of those handling such data, and respects privacy laws concerning the distribution of personal data. It is important that organisations are aware of the implications of non-compliance and have in place steps and processes to protect themselves and the personal data of their clients/customers/delegates. The importance of the data protection in our industry is for our business continuity or maybe for our survival.

Data management is not new — but it has become much more complex and, with the impending General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) laws, much more stringent and onerous. When GDPR is enforced across the European Union from 25 May 2018, rules regarding data privacy and data sharing will become stricter — and penalties for non-compliance are hefty.

While these rules are related to EU citizens, they are applied globally, so event professionals in Asia need to be prepared. There is a need now to learn and become familiar with the updated GDPR rules to ensure compliance. We need to enhance the awareness and the consequences of non-compliance among event industry practitioners. Third-party technology suppliers also need to have in place the necessary processes/systems to effect and implement relevant services.

In Singapore, this is an important issue for the MICE industry and Singapore Association of Convention & Exhibition Organisers & Suppliers (SACEOS) is looking to keep the industry abreast of the impact of GDPR. SACEOS will be organising seminars to assist our industry members to clearly understand and comprehend the implications of GDPR non-compliance. We are working with EY and a number of other consultants to assist in providing solutions on the GDPR issue. These seminars will be repeated and on-going as we feel that it is necessary to educate all sectors of the business events and meetings industry.

Essentially, we need to start paving the path to compliance today in order to avoid a mad scramble in mid-May. This must be an industry-wide initiative across Asia. No one is immune.

Janet Tan-Collis is the president of SACEOS and chief executive of Singapore-based event agency, East West Planners.

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