Singapore Proposes Law to Use Tracing Data in Serious Crimes
(Bloomberg) -- Singapore introduced a bill on Monday in parliament to formalize the use of contact tracing data in criminal investigations for serious offenses, after it was revealed that such information was already used in a murder case.
The law will specify government agencies can use contact tracing data only for this purpose, except where there is a need for law enforcement officers to use the data for criminal investigations of serious offenses, the Smart Nation and Digital Government Office said in a statement on Monday. Such offenses include murder, terrorism, kidnapping and serious sexual offenses.
The move comes after it was disclosed last month the Singapore police can use any data, including data from the widely-adopted contact tracing program, for criminal investigations. The disclosure had generated a public backlash, creating a test of trust for the government, after a minister previously said such data will not be used for any other purposes.
“The government is introducing this Bill under extraordinary circumstances,” according to the statement. “The legislation is intended to remove any doubt about what personal contact tracing data can be used for.”
Once the pandemic is over, the government will cease the use of systems currently used for contact tracing, the statement said. Public agencies must then stop collecting such data, and delete the collected personal contact tracing data as soon as practicable.
Any public officer, or contractor engaged by a public sector agency, found guilty of unauthorized use or disclosure of personal contact tracing data can be fined up to S$20,000 ($15,044), or sentenced to jail for up to two years, or both.
The collection of contact tracing data in the first place have already fueled concerns worldwide over privacy issues. Efforts by many countries to use mobile apps have mostly stalled or have been abandoned amid dismal enrollment rates and worries that the technology poses a threat to privacy rights.
In Singapore, the government has acknowledged the error in not stating that the data wasn’t exempt from Singapore’s criminal code.
More than 80% of the population in the city-state have either downloaded the contact tracing app or collected the token, according to Monday’s statement.
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