So, people have been going on about “Singapore” again. Last week I had to look up information about Singaporean data protection laws – that’s life in the private sector, folks! – and I found something interesting.

Brexit fans are very keen on the idea that you could somehow be a “business hub” outside the EU by getting rid of regulations. It’s a strategic aim of the Singaporean government to be a “hub” (that fucking word again) for data centres, hosting, and cloud computing in Asia-Pacific. It’s not a bad idea. So what does actually existing Singapore do about, say, data protection? Presumably they’ve abolished all regulations on what you can do with other people’s data, and let the market decide?

Well, in 2013 they passed a stringent Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA). It turns out that if you want people to trust you with their secrets, you probably better not leak them! Further, if you’re hoping that foreign investors will build their data centres in your country in order to export their services to other countries, you’ll have to respect the standards in force in those other countries as well. Regulation is a strength.

One of the major problems of our time is that the political understanding of what “City interests” might be has diverged from the City’s understanding of them. The Tory dread of “Brussels regulation” spoiling stuff was crucial, as Ivan Rogers points out, in sending David Cameron off down the track of Brexit.

I dunno, but maybe injecting massive regulatory uncertainty into everything is why the “Business investment” line item in this OBR chart is so horrible.

1 Comment on "Singapore"

  1. So my MP is Mark Field.
    In email conversations before the referendum it was very clear that he had some City mates (Odey?) who have a very specific set of regulatory requirements that bring them to favour Brexit. Of course, the vast majority of the City doesn’t have the same. See also Bamford, Dyson.

    Feels like a major bug in our systems that has allowed these minority interests to dominate the understanding of where the national interest lies.


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