International COVID 19 Gerald Giam: Just because 80% have adopted TraceTogether, it doesn't mean they're...

Gerald Giam: Just because 80% have adopted TraceTogether, it doesn’t mean they’re using it

Mr Giam raised concerns saying that there are many ways that the app can be disabled




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Singapore—In Parliament on Tuesday (Feb 2), MP Gerald Giam (WP-Aljunied GRC) pointed out that while the take-up rate for TraceTogether has reached 80 per cent, there is no guarantee that people are using it, given recent concerns over privacy.

He added that there are ways to disable the contact tracing app or token.

“Just because 80 per cent of residents have downloaded the app or collected the token, it doesn’t mean they are actually using it. There are many ways that TT can be disabled. There is even a pause function within the TT app itself. Suffice to say, one does not need to be a rocket scientist to figure out how to legally disable the TT app or token,” Mr Giam said in his speech.

The WP MP voiced his concerns that because TraceTogether can be used in criminal investigations, some individuals who committed “even minor misdemeanours” could opt for disabling TraceTogether “just to avoid detection.”

Others, he added, could disable the app or token in order to avoid being required to serve as a witness in court cases.

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There are also others who may disable TraceTogether “as a matter of principle or because of their lack of trust in the Government.”

If these individuals are added up, they may make up “a not-so-insignificant proportion of our population,” said the MP.

And in a pandemic situation, this could prove to be dangerous.

Mr Giam wrote that while many Singaporeans downloaded the app and received the token in good faith, the news last month that data from the app could be used in criminal investigations could make “Singaporeans more wary of taking Government statements at face value.”

He also asked whether “the potential cost of slower containment of the community spread of Covid-19” is worth the Government’s reluctance to commit to not using data from the contact tracing app and token at all.

Mr Giam spoke about a possible scenario of the numbers of Covid-19 infections overwhelming Singapore’s healthcare system, and asked, “would the police still use TraceTogether data if it inadvertently suppresses the adoption rate and hinders contact tracing efforts?”

He mentioned that MP Murali Pillai (PAP-Bukit Batok SMC) had said that it would be worth using data from contact tracing if it meant one serious crime getting solved.

Reversing this, Mr Giam asked “Is it worth it if even one Covid-19 cluster goes undetected because a few people deactivated their TT app out of privacy concerns?”

And while he said he would support the Bill limiting using the data from TraceTohgether to seven types of serious crimes, albeit  “with some reluctance,” he hoped the Government would give careful thought as to consider “how often and to what extent it uses the broad powers conferred on it by Section 20 of the CPC and this Bill.”


Read also: Single TraceTogether check-in soon to eliminate multiple SafeEntry check-ins

Single TraceTogether check-in soon to eliminate multiple SafeEntry check-ins

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