Singapore Police Force can obtain TraceTogether data for criminal investigations: Desmond Tan

Singapore Police Force can obtain TraceTogether data for criminal investigations: Desmond Tan

Trace Together app
The TraceTogether app was launched on Mar 20, 2020 to support ongoing COVID-19 contact tracing efforts. (Photo: Hanidah Amin)

SINGAPORE: The Singapore Police Force (SPF) can obtain TraceTogether data for criminal investigations, said Minister of State for Home Affairs Desmond Tan in Parliament on Monday (Jan 4).

The SPF is empowered under the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) to obtain any data, and that includes the TraceTogether data, said Mr Tan.

"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," added Mr Tan.

"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."

Mr Tan was responding to a question from Member of Parliament (MP) Christopher de Souza, who had asked if TraceTogether data will be used for criminal investigations and what the legal provisions and safeguards are for using such data.

A privacy statement on the TraceTogether website had earlier said the data would only be used “for contact tracing purposes”. 

The site was updated on Jan 4 which "clarified how the Criminal Procedure code applies to all data under Singapore's jurisdiction".

"TraceTogether data may be used in circumstances where citizen safety and security is or has been affected," it wrote. 

"The Singapore Police Force is empowered under the CPC to obtain any data, including TraceTogether data, for criminal investigations."

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Under the Public Sector (Governance) Act, public officers who recklessly or knowingly disclose the data without authorisation, or misuse the data, may be fined up to S$5,000 or jailed up to two years, or both, said Mr Tan.

"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," said Mr Tan, in response to a supplementary question from Workers' Party MP Gerald Giam who had asked if use of the data would violate the TraceTogether privacy statement.

"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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Source: CNA/mt

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