Your Data or Your Life

7 Pages Posted: 14 Dec 2020

See all articles by Simon Chesterman

Simon Chesterman

National University of Singapore (NUS) - Faculty of Law

Date Written: October 17, 2020


Data, in particular personal data, is often described as the ‘new oil’ powering the information economy. It’s an attractive metaphor — evoking transformations underway in a fourth industrial revolution, heralding a world of artificial intelligence and limitless possibilities. Unfortunately, that metaphor is wrong in almost every way. Oil is finite, companies pay millions to extract it, and each barrel can be used only once. Data, by contrast, is infinite, consumers give it to you for free, and you can keep using it for as long as you like.

This essay considers the nature of personal data and recent proposals to amend Singapore's Personal Data Protection Act.

Keywords: Data Protection, Privacy, Personal Data, Singapore, GDPR

JEL Classification: K24, K38, L86

Suggested Citation

Chesterman, Simon, Your Data or Your Life (October 17, 2020). Available at SSRN:

Simon Chesterman (Contact Author)

National University of Singapore (NUS) - Faculty of Law ( email )

469G Bukit Timah Road
Eu Tong Sen Building
Singapore, 259776


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