The Hotel of the Future: Legal Considerations in Hotel Innovation
Oct17

The Hotel of the Future: Legal Considerations in Hotel Innovation

Imagine having your luggage checked straight to your hotel as you alight from your plane, and the next time you see it will be in your hotel room. Lugging of bags from the airport to the hotel may become a thing of the past. Or imagine using your phone to access your room as well as attractions, instead of having to juggle multiple access cards and tickets. This “Hotel of the Future” may soon be a reality, if the recommendations of Singapore’s Hotel Innovation Committee (HIC) are followed. The HIC was formed in February 2016 to oversee the industry’s adoption of innovative solutions, following the recommendations of the Hotel Industry Expert Panel Report. The HIC has released its Best Practices Guide for Hotels in July 2017, and they are currently evaluating submissions received for the Tourism Innovation Challenge for Hotels, a crowd-sourcing pitch exercise. In this post, we look at the opportunities that these developments bring for the hotel industry and comment on some of the key legal considerations for the “Hotel of the Future”, mapped to some of the HIC’s recommendations. The innovation opportunity The hotel sector is well positioned to reap the benefits that technology may bring, driven by rising demand from increasingly sophisticated travellers, and greater applicability of technology in providing a more seamless experience. Innovation will be fundamental in transforming the hotel sector towards productivity driven growth. This is especially important in light of the increased competition as seen in the rise in the number of hotel rooms in Singapore in recent years. Between 2012 and 2016, total available room nights rose by nearly 30% from 12,477,908 in 2012 to 16,161,862 in 2016, which dampened revenue by approximately 12% (average revenue per available room dropped from $226 in 2012 to $198.8 in 2016). Key legal considerations 1. Privacy and data protection – Responsible collection and usage of information As guests connect via a growing number of digital touchpoints, hotels will generate and collect more data than ever before, whether via wearable technology (for in-house payments, room access and even entry to attractions), targeted marketing (such as providing tailored sightseeing recommendations) or loyalty programmes. With all of this data comes the obligation to comply with data protection laws – including, in particular, the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA). Organisations need to have robust processes and systems in place. Not only is compliance a legal requirement but it is also good business practice. Taking steps such as being transparent about data collection practices, obtaining appropriate consents and keeping data secure will be key to building a trusted relationship with guests in the Hotel of the Future. Our...

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Introducing Singapore’s new draft Cybersecurity Bill
Jul12

Introducing Singapore’s new draft Cybersecurity Bill

On 10 July 2017, Singapore’s long-awaited draft Cybersecurity Bill was introduced. This is a timely development, especially in view of recent cybersecurity attacks such as the Advanced Persistent Threat attacks targeting two of Singapore’s universities and the global WannaCry and Petya / Petna malware attacks. As a small and highly connected nation, Singapore is dependent on info-communications technology, and cybersecurity threats need to be taken seriously. Attacks on critical information infrastructure (CII) systems that manage utilities, healthcare, transportation and other essential services can lead to disruptions that can cripple Singapore’s economy and lead to loss of life. Even though the current Computer Misuse and Cybersecurity Act (CMCA) already has some provisions on cybersecurity, it primarily concerns cybercrime such as e-commerce scams and hacking. This draft Cybersecurity Bill caters more broadly to the security of a computer or computer system against unauthorised access or malicious acts, to preserve their availability and integrity, or the confidentiality of information stored or processed in them. The intention behind the draft Cybersecurity Bill is to have a coordinated national approach to cybersecurity, and ensure that CIIs across all sectors are protected consistently. Its provisions will apply equally to both public and private sectors. The following are the key provisions under the draft Cybersecurity Bill: Appointment of Commissioner and Powers. The powers of the Cybersecurity Bill will vest in the Commissioner of Cybersecurity, who has various functions including the overseeing and maintenance of cybersecurity in Singapore. Critical Information Infrastructure. CIIs are computers or computer systems that are necessary for the continuous delivery of essential services that Singapore relies on, the loss or compromise of which will lead to a debilitating impact on national security, defence, foreign relations, economy, public health, public safety or public order of Singapore. Currently, essential services have been identified in 11 sectors, including utilities, banking and finance, media, info-communications, healthcare and transportation. The owners of CIIs, which are defined as persons with, amongst others, effective control over the operations of the CII, have certain statutory duties, including the duty to comply with codes and directions, to conduct audits and risk assessments, to report cybersecurity incidents including any incident that occurs in respect of the CII and any incident that occurs in respect of any computer or computer system under the owner’s control that is interconnected with or communicates with the CII, and to participate in cybersecurity exercises. Responses to Cybersecurity Threats and Incidents. If there is a cybersecurity threat or incident, the Commissioner can choose to investigate it in order to determine its impact, to prevent further harm and to prevent further incidents. These investigative powers can be delegated to authorised...

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Singapore criminalises online gambling – who is affected?
Jan29

Singapore criminalises online gambling – who is affected?

From Monday, 2 February 2015, the full force of Singapore’s extensive new Remote Gambling Act will be felt, both inside and outside of Singapore. The Act will criminalise the entire spectrum of remote gambling activities. The restrictions are extremely broad and will be felt by operators, agents, brokers, service providers, broadcasters, advertising networks, payment processors, financial institutions, ISPs – and, of course players, with potential sanctions including site blocking, payment blocking, fines and prison terms. As with any new law, particularly one that is so broad in scope, there are a number of grey areas, so we look here at some of the implications for different categories of individual and organisation within the remote gaming ecosystem. What does the Remote Gambling Act mean for…? Gambling operators based outside of Singapore Operators based outside of Singapore will need to take operational measures to comply, otherwise they risk falling foul of the extra-territorial measures of the Act that apply to services with a “Singapore customer link”. The long arm of the new law actually requires operators based overseas to make operational changes in order to comply. These include informing prospective customers that Singapore law prohibits the provision of the service to Singapore-based users, updating terms and conditions and taking “such other measures as far as reasonably practicable to ensure that the service did not, or could not reasonably have, a Singapore-customer link”. It remains unclear at this time whether geoblocking will be a minimum expected requirement. With extra-territorial laws, enforcement is always the challenge, which is why the Government is introducing payment blocking (via local financial institutions) and site blocking (via local ISPs) as part of the Act, with these measures to kick in immediately from Monday, 2 February. The MHA is reportedly preparing a list of online gambling sites to target. The Government has also indicated that it could seek the extradition to Singapore of individuals involved in the operation of offshore remote gambling services that target Singapore, although one would expect that to be reserved for very serious cases. Gambling operators based in Singapore From 2 February, it will be illegal to run a “Singapore-based remote gambling service”. Put simply, if the service is based in Singapore then the rules apply, wherever the customers are based. It does not matter whether the service targets Singapore customers or foreign customers, so geoblocking Singapore will not be a workaround. A service will be viewed as a “Singapore-based remote gambling service” if: (a)    The service is provided in the course of carrying on a business in Singapore; (b)   The central management and control of the service is in Singapore; or (c)    Where the...

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Singapore to regulate taxi apps – but more detail is needed
Nov23

Singapore to regulate taxi apps – but more detail is needed

Taxi apps like GrabTaxi, Uber and Hailo will soon be regulated by Singapore’s Land Transport Authority (LTA). Singapore is one of the world’s most expensive places to own a car and taxis are a part of everyday life for many residents. Third party taxi apps have seen a surge in popularity in 2014, driven in large part by increasingly competitive promotions targeted at both passengers and drivers. Let’s take a look at the new rules and their implications for the apps, the passengers, the drivers and the taxi fleets. What apps will be affected? The rules apply to “third party taxi booking applications”. Importantly, they do not apply to the proprietary apps of the seven taxi fleet operators such as ComfortDelgro / CityCab and SMRT, which are subject to separate regulation. Here are the key third party app operators in Singapore today: 1. GrabTaxi GrabTaxi was established in Malaysia as MyTeksi in June 2012 by the runners-up of Harvard Business School’s 2011 startups programme. Grab has been backed by (amongst others) Temasek Holdings, Singapore’s state-owned investment vehicle. Grab is now a significant regional player in South-East Asia and currently operates in Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Bangkok and Vietnam. 2. Uber Uber needs little introduction. It launched in Singapore in 2013 and has been aggressively promoting its services via a range of driver and passenger promotions, including “free taxi days” and a recent tie-up with Spotify to enable in-car streaming. The service in Singapore enables booking with licensed taxi and private hire operators but not unlicensed drivers. 3. Hailo UK-based Hailo (an Olswang client) was set up by a team of London black cabbies in November 2011 and backed by some significant investors, including Sir Richard Branson, to the tune of USD $100 million. It launched in Singapore in October 2014 as part of a tie-up with SMRT, although the app will be available for use across other fleets too. 4. EasyTaxi Easy is marketed as “the biggest taxi app in the world”. It was founded in Brazil in April 2012 and is currently available in 120+ cities. It is primarily backed by Rocket Internet, the German-based startups incubator. What are the new rules? The LTA has announced that they will regulate third party taxi apps from the second quarter of 2015 and have provided a high-level summary of the rules that will apply. The rules themselves are still to be published and details are fairly sketchy but this is what we know: 1. Apps must register with the LTA All third party apps must apply for registration with the LTA. The LTA has confirmed that “successful applicants” will be able to obtain a three year...

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The battle for World Cup TV rights isn’t over yet
Jan30

The battle for World Cup TV rights isn’t over yet

In case it escaped your attention, the FIFA World Cup is a mere five months away. As Ronaldo, Messi and the rest gear up for the world’s single most-viewed sporting event, the battle for broadcasting rights in South-East Asia isn’t over yet. Indeed, the international coaches are not the only ones who are fine-tuning their World Cup tactics: there is plenty for broadcasters in Singapore and Thailand to play for too. Singapore: negotiations heading for extra time? FIFA’s list of media rights licensees around the world reveals a notable omission: Singapore. Broadcasters in more than 200 territories worldwide have closed broadcasting rights deals with FIFA but Singapore is not on the list. The reason is that the country’s two biggest telcos, StarHub and SingTel, have been engaged in negotiations with FIFA over the rights for a couple of years and there is no sign yet that a deal is going to be signed soon. This isn’t the first time this has happened in Singapore. The 2010 broadcasting rights deal was closed just 35 days before the first ball was kicked. There are broadly two issues that would seem to explain the late-running of the negotiations in 2014: Cost: This is the obvious one. FIFA reportedly secured only about 50% of its asking price for the rights in 2010 and may perhaps be seeking more in 2014. The negotiation on price will not be helped by timezones: the matches will be on in the middle of the night. No problem for the hardened football fans but it will undoubtedly hit viewing figures and, by association, the level of interest amongst broadcast sponsors. The cross-carriage rules: The fact that an exclusive licensee is required to make exclusive content available to its rivals across other platforms. This issue came to the fore in 2013 when SingTel was required to allow StarHub to cross-carry the FA Premier League content, after it was determined that SingTel had done an exclusive rights deal for the content (which it disputes). Thailand: free-to-air rights now in question In Thailand, a debate is unfolding as to whether the matches should be available on free-to-air TV. Back in 2012, Thailand’s “must have” rules came into effect. These would require all 64 matches from the 2014 World Cup to be aired on a free-to-air basis. But that is not the end of the story. RS International Broadcasting & Sports Management Co. Ltd, listed by FIFA as the holder of radio, TV and internet rights, argues that  the whistle had already gone on its rights deal with FIFA when the “must-have” rules came into effect. RS closed its broadcast deal back in 2005, well before...

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