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Watchdog fines Social Metric $18,000 for misusing customers’ personal data

Digital marketing agency Social Metric has been rapped by Singapore’s data privacy watchdog for a “flagrant privacy breach” that saw peoples’ personal details made available online.

The agency, which is owned by New Union, was fined S$18,000 by Singapore’s Personal Data Protection Commission for displaying personal details of 558 people – including 155 children – on its website.

In a recent ruling by the PDPC, the agency was said to have stored details on nine publicly available webpages of peoples’ names, emails, date of birth, employers and occupations, although only the names and ages of the children listed.

According to the commission’s investigation, the personal data was provided by the individuals directly by
the individual sending his or her personal data to Social Metric through Facebook’s private message, and were not obtained from publicly available sources.

Social Metric is said to have told the PDPC that the public display of information was due to an “oversight or forgetfulness”, although the watchdog argued these were not “valid excuses”.

In addition, the PDPC described Social Metric’s “prolonged failure” to put in place the security measures on their website as “inexplicable”.

Both Social Metric and New Union were unavailable for comment at the time of publication. However, Marcus Ho, the founder and former director of the agency’s education division, said he was unaware of the data breach at the time.

This is not the first time in the last 12 months that Social Metric has made headlines. Last year, the company was accused of failing to pay more than S$11,000 owed to Australian agency Dianomi for a campaign on behalf of Tokio Marine. 

Dianomi has so far not been repaid “a single cent” of the outstanding bill, although the company’s director of marketing, Julian Peterson, said the fee was not worth chasing in court when balanced against potential legal costs. 

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