Tampering with TraceTogether token could lead to jail time

Singapore is not just a fine country.

Belmont Lay | October 27, 2020, 02:11 PM

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Tampering with your TraceTogether token to make it ineffective or interfere with how it carries out its intended functions is likely a crime in Singapore.

This was the conclusion one comes to reading a report by The New Paper on Oct. 27.

What kind of offences?

Lawyer Joshua Tong from Kalco Law told TNP: "If there is physical damage or alterations to the tokens, one may be liable for an offence of mischief simpliciter."

The offence carries a jail term of up to two years and/ or a fine.

One can also be charged with mischief causing disruption to a public health service.

This offence is more serious as it carries a jail term of up to 10 years and/ or a fine.

As the TraceTogether token is the property of the Singapore government, and accessing the token, such as by breaking it physically or by other means to alter or omit data, can be punishable by law if it affects the combating of the pandemic.

Under the Computer Misuse Act, unauthorised access to computer material carries a jail term of up to two years, and/or a fine of up to S$5,000.

Those who make unauthorised modifications of computer material can be jailed for up to three years and/ or fined up to S$10,000.

The Smart Nation and Digital Government Group (SNDGG) said: "Any deliberate or mischievous act to tamper with the token is a criminal offence under the Computer Misuse Act."


The TNP piece is based on the observation that at least one HardwareZone online forum is openly discussing blocking the Bluetooth signal on the token, printing QR codes from other tokens to stick them on one's own token, and removing the battery that powers the token to hamper its contact tracing ability.

The multi-ministry task force said checking in with TraceTogether will be mandatory by year-end, with cinemas starting on Oct. 26.

SNDGG said it was aware of online forums where users claimed to have modified the token.

More than 400,000 tokens have been collected since distribution began in September 2020.

Singapore is keen to raise the take-up rate for the TraceTogether token to 70 per cent of the population.

TraceTogether has helped cut the time to identify close contacts from four days to less than two days, SNDGG said.

Currently, the tokens can be collected at 38 community centres, but they will be available at all 108 CCs by end-November.

Singaporeans are to collect the tokens from their own constituency's distribution centre, as a result of heightened demand.

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