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Govt confirms that police can use TraceTogether data for criminal investigations

The Singapore Police Force is empowered by the Criminal Procedure Code to obtain any data in Singapore

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Minister of State for Home Affairs Desmond Tan confirmed on Monday (4 Jan) that the Singapore Police Force (SPF) can obtain TraceTogether data for criminal investigations, as it is empowered by the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) to obtain any data in Singapore.

The Government had initially said that TT data would only be used for the sake of contact tracing. A privacy statement on the TT website said earlier that it would only be used “for contact tracing purposes” until it was updated on Monday to clarify how the Criminal Procedure code applies to all data under Singapore’s jurisdiction.

The new privacy statement states: “TraceTogether data may be used in circumstances where citizen safety and security is or has been affected. The Singapore Police Force is empowered under the CPC to obtain any data, including TraceTogether data, for criminal investigations.”

The Government’s clarification was issued in response to a parliamentary question filed by Holland-Bukit Timah GRC MP and Deputy Speaker of Parliament Christopher De Souza who asked whether TT data will be used for criminal investigations.

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Mr De Souza, a lawyer, had also asked the authorities to specify what legal provisions and safeguards are in place for the use of TT data.

Mr Tan, a first-term MP who had served as the Chief Executive Director of the People’s Association prior to joining politics, said in Parliament: “The Government is the custodian of the TT (TraceTogether) data submitted by the individuals and stringent measures are put in place to safeguard this personal data.

“Examples of these measures include only allowing authorised officers to access the data, using such data only for authorised purposes and storing the data on a secured data platform.”

He added that public officers who misuse or disclose TT data recklessly or deliberately without authorisation may be fined up to S$5,000 or jailed up to two years, under the Public Sector (Governance) Act.

Workers’ Party (WP) MP Gerald Giam had also asked a supplementary question on whether the use of TT data would violate the privacy statement on the system’s website. Mr Tan responded:

“We do not preclude the use of TraceTogether data in circumstances where citizens’ safety and security is or has been affected, and this applies to all other data as well.

“Authorised police officers may invoke then the Criminal Procedure Code…powers to obtain this data for purpose of criminal investigation, and for the purpose of the safety and security of our citizens, but otherwise TraceTogether data is indeed to be used only for contact tracing and for the purpose of fighting the COVID situation.”

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