International COVID 19 WP's Gerald Giam says "ill-advised" to use TraceTogether data for criminal investigations

WP’s Gerald Giam says “ill-advised” to use TraceTogether data for criminal investigations

Parliament told police are empowered under the Criminal Procedure Code to obtain data for criminal investigations, including data from TraceTogether

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Singapore — Workers’ Party Member of Parliament Gerald Giam (Aljunied GRC) questioned Minister of State for Home Affairs Desmond Tan in Parliament on Monday (Jan 4) regarding the use of TraceTogether data for criminal investigations.

Mr Tan had said that the Singapore Police Force (SPF) is empowered under the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) to obtain data for criminal investigations, including data from TraceTogether.

Mr Tan said: ”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.”

In a Facebook post the same night, Mr Giam said: “I think it is ill-advised that the Government has not specifically ruled out the use of TraceTogether data for criminal investigations, as other countries like Australia have done. I hope they change their position, for sake of our national battle against Covid-19.”

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Mr Christopher de Souza (PAP-Holland-Bukit Timah GRC) had asked in Parliament whether or not the data collected from the contact tracing platforms would be used in criminal investigations as this was a concern of some people.

Mr Tan had replied that data from TraceTogether would be treated in the same way as any other data under the jurisdiction of Singapore.

Mr Giam had then asked Mr Tan: “Now that the government has said that they might actually use TraceTogether data for police investigations, does this not violate the TraceTogether privacy statement, which says that any data shared with the (Ministry of Health) will only be used solely for contact tracing of persons, possibly exposed to Covid-19?”

Mr Tan had said that this does not “preclude the use of TraceTogether data in circumstances where citizens safety and security is or has been affected”.

He had added: “Authorised police officers may invoke then the Criminal Procedure Code … to obtain this data for the purpose of criminal investigation, and for the purpose of the safety and security of our citizens. But otherwise, TraceTogether data is to be used only for contact tracing and for the purpose of fighting the Covid situation.”

In his Facebook post, Mr Giam said barriers preventing people from adapting contact tracing methods should be done away with, given that this is vital to curbing the spread of Covid-19 infections.

He said that he had expressed concern that “if people suspect that their TraceTogether data is being used for anything other than contact tracing, this will surely lead to lower adoption and usage.

“I cautioned that there are ways users can prevent the app or token from exchanging proximity information, even if they have it installed or are carrying it around.” /TISG

Read also: Calvin Cheng praises WP’s Gerald Giam’s piece on how to solve “the $100 million TraceTogether dilemma”

Calvin Cheng praises WP’s Gerald Giam’s piece on how to solve “the $100 million TraceTogether dilemma”

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