To allay public concerns on the use of TraceTogether (TT), the Smart Nation and Digital Government Office announced last week (Jan. 8) that the government would pass legislation to restrict the use of TraceTogether and SafeEntry data to investigations only relating to serious offences.
The office also made public seven categories of what the government considers to be serious offences.
The same evening when this announcement was made, Minister-in-Charge of the Smart Nation Initiative Vivian Balakrishnan acknowledged in a Facebook post that he "made a mistake" when characterising the use of TT data in 2020.
He admitted that he had not thought of the Criminal Procedure Code when he said that TT would only be used for contact tracing, back in June 2020.
In response, the secretary-general of Progress Singapore Party (PSP), Tan Cheng Bock, issued a statement on Sunday morning (Jan. 10) on this matter.
PSP: TraceTogether data only for fight against Covid-19
PSP said that allowing TT to be used for criminal investigations is "not aligned" to the party's idea of how healthcare crises should be dealt with.
The party had a firm stance on this matter, saying that TT data should only be used for Covid-19 purposes:
"Covid tracing data must solely and strictly be used for fighting the pandemic and nothing else."
Allowing TT to be used for criminal investigations has deeper implications
Tan adds that there are deeper implications if the government allows TT to be used for non-Covid related purposes. This includes erosion in confidence in the political institution and the social compact.
Tan expressed the party's concerns on how allowing TT to be used for criminal investigations will discourage people from using TT app and tokens.
"This will set us back in our efforts to fight the spread of Covid-19," Tan said.
Questions if TT is really useful for criminal investigations
PSP's statement also raised a few questions on whether TT is really essential or suitable for criminal investigations.
PSP raised the possibility that criminal suspects might forge the TT data to distract investigators and asked if the current period of TT data storage (25 days) is sufficient for tracking suspects.
The party also asked for more details on how TT will be used for those under the watchlist of the Internal Security Department.
Here's the statement in full:
Top photo by Rachel Ng.