Singapore Police May Use Contact Tracing Data for Investigations

Singapore’s police force may use data acquired through its widely adopted contact tracing program for criminal investigations, a senior official said on Monday.

Replying to a question about the city-state’s TraceTogether program in parliament, Desmond Tan, minister of state at the Ministry of Home Affairs, said the police force was “empowered under the criminal procedure code to obtain any data, including TraceTogether data, for criminal investigations.”

“The government is the custodian of the TT data submitted by individuals, and stringent measures are in place to safeguard this personal data,” Tan said. “Examples of these measures include only allowing authorized officers to access the data, using such data only for authorized purposes, and storing the data on a secured data platform.”

With one of the highest take-up rates in the world, TraceTogether has been adopted by about 78% of the city-state’s population of nearly 5.7 million, Education Minister Lawrence Wong said during a parliamentary speech on Monday. The use of TraceTogether either through its mobile application or a wearable token will be required for entry into public venues in early 2021, the Ministry of Health stated in December.

Tan’s remarks follow privacy concerns raised by citizens last year over the contact tracing program. According to the TraceTogether website, the program does not collect data about individual GPS locations, Wifi or mobile networks being used. It also states data may “only be used solely for contact tracing of persons possibly exposed to Covid-19.”

According to Tan, public officers who recklessly or knowingly disclose the data without authorization or misuse the data may be liable of a fine up to S$5,000, about $3,800, or imprisonment of up to two years, or both.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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