SINGAPORE: Specific personal information was made public about a Central Provident Fund Board (CPF Board) complainant to provide the public with "correct and relevant facts", the Smart Nation and Digital Government Office said on Friday (Dec 27).
The Office issued the statement after queries from the media about the Government's policy on the disclosure of personal data in certain cases of public interest.
Some personal details of a woman, Ms Sua Li Li, were released on the CPF Board's Facebook page on Dec 19.
The Facebook post – a the joint statement by the CPF Board, Housing and Development Board, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, and Ministry of Social and Family Development – addressed an article published on Dec 17 by The Online Citizen (TOC).
The article was about a woman suffering from lupus who was petitioning the authorities for access to her MediSave and Special Account CPF funds. The article had used a pseudonym, referring to the woman as Ms Soo.
The authorities' joint statement on Facebook on Dec 19 said the article had "omitted to mention" that several Government agencies were "actively supporting the woman", and identified the woman as Ms Sua. They also provided further details about her case.
TOC published another article on Dec 19, reporting that Ms Sua had written to the CPF Board, questioning the release of her full name on Facebook.
In its statement on Friday, the Smart Nation and Digital Government Office said TOC's initial article had "omitted key facts and contained misleading statements" and that the public agencies had issued their response to provide a "full picture" to the public.
"Some specific personal information was disclosed in order to convey verifiable facts and to enable the individual to challenge the Government’s account of the case, if need be," it said.
"The law permits such disclosure, including the identity of the individual, in the public interest.
"Public agencies have a duty to preserve the public trust reposed in them and to ensure that citizens are not misled."
The Personal Data Protection Commission also allows companies to disclose "relevant personal information" about an individual in a public forum, in order to counter false or misleading allegations from the individual in the same forum, said the Office.
"This gives the companies an opportunity to clear the air for themselves, and convey the facts of the case to the public," it added.
"Such lawful, necessary disclosure of information should not be conflated with unauthorised breaches of citizens’ data, which all public agencies, including the CPF Board, are fully committed to safeguard against."
Public agencies have to abide by the data protection regulations under the Public Sector (Governance) Act and in the Government Instruction Manuals.
"These are no less stringent than the requirements of the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) which apply to the private sector," the office said.