Singapore — The concerns of some people about the proposed wearable contact tracing device were addressed by Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister-in-Charge of the Smart Nation Initiative Vivian Balakrishnan at the multi-ministry task force (MTF) press conference on Monday (June 8) but doubts about the device remain judging from comments online.
Dr Balakrishnan explained that the decision to adopt the TraceTogether Token stemmed from the fact that “not everyone has a smart phone” or a smartphone that can effectively supply data that is needed for contact tracing. The Token is said to function “exactly the same way” as the TraceTogether app on a smartphone.
Referring to the TraceTogether Token, Dr Balakrishnan said: “It is not a tracking device. It is not an electronic tag, as some of the Internet commentaries have fretted about.”
Some comments on the Internet have characterised the wearable device as dehumanising and/or for “criminals”.
Dr Balakrishnan explained that the Token has neither a GPS chip nor Internet connectivity, rendering it unable to track the movement of the individual carrying it and storing data online. As for both the TraceTogether App and Token, Dr Balakrishnan explained that any data captured by the device is encrypted and stored in it for 25 days, after which it is automatically deleted.
He added that the only time the data leaves the device is “in the unlikely event that you are diagnosed with Covid-19. Then, and only then, is the data uploaded to MOH”. Thereafter, only a small group of individuals will utilise the data to “reconstruct the activity map” and work out “the full range of interactions you have had”, to aid contact tracing.
Online comments on the device
Some support the introduction of the Token, agreeing with Dr Balakrishnan that it is a step towards more efficient contact tracing. However, others still have doubts.
One person stated that it is a “fallacy to think that we can balance between personal privacy and technology”.
Some pointed to Taiwan, South Korea and New Zealand, all of which had successfully contained the Covid-19, to question the need for the device.
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