In a statement to the Parliament Monday, January 4, 2020, Singapore’s Prime Minister of State for Home Affairs Desmon Tan acknowledged that the Singapore Police Force can gain access to the contact tracing details from the TraceTogether program for criminal investigations.
Tan said that the nation’s police is allowed to leverage such data under the Criminal Procedure Code, reports The Straits Times. While the app was made to mainly fight the onslaught of the virus pandemic, the police force is still privy and empowered to use such information for investigations.
Tan further said, “The government is the custodian of the TT data submitted by individuals, and stringent measures are in place to safeguard this personal data.”
“Examples of these measures include only allowing authorized officers to access the data, using such data only for authorized purposes, and storing the data on a secured data platform,” said Tan in a statement.
Reuters also reports that the information is disclosed on the app is encrypted and is only opened in the event a person tests positive for the said virus.
Although public officers may use this information for probes, the misuse and unauthorized disclosure of information may be fined up to 5,000 Singaporean dollars or around $3,800. This can also be penalized with up to two years in jail. Officers in violation may also be fined with both.
Bloomberg reports that the statement from the Prime Minister of State comes as citizens expressed their concerns over privacy violations over the use of the wearable token or the use of the mobile application.
According to ZD Net, both the contact tracing app and the wearable token are currently being used by over 4.2 million Singaporean residents, one of the highest in the world.
Apart from this Singaporean contact tracing app, Reuters reveals that other countries with similar programs in place have expressed the same concerns. These include countries such as South Korea and Israel.
The TraceTogether website discloses that the program does not track GPS locations, as well as the mobile or WiFi networks being used by individuals. It also maintains that the data being disclosed on the app may “only be used solely for contact tracing of persons possibly exposed to Covid-19.”
Despite the privacy concerns over the use of the TraceTogether app, ZD Net states the overwhelming demand for the contact tracing token comes as a surprise.
While these wearables are deemed effective in furthering the efforts of the government, the nation emphasizes the use of the mobile app as it receives regular updates, shares Education Minister Lawrence Wong on Monday, as reported by ZD Net.