TraceTogether: Is the Government Taking Advantage of Singaporeans’ Trust?

Singaporeans are known to be willing to trade some of their personal rights and privacy for security. Yet, so many Singaporeans are angry with the implementation of the TraceTogether (TT) token and app. 

Speaking to residents in Pasir Ris and Punggol, the sentiment is that Singaporeans are upset that the government has broken their trust.

Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister-in-charge of the Smart Nation programme, said in June 2020 that data from TT will only be used for contact tracing purpose. The Ministry of Health (MOH) also stated the same, in no uncertain terms, in its privacy policy.

By Dec 2020, the TT adoption rate was 80 percent.

However, come Jan 2021, Singaporeans were shocked to find out that police had accessed contact tracing data. 

And with that, Dr Balakrishnan confessed, rather conveniently, that it had slipped his mind that the police could use the data. MOH has also since changed their TT privacy policy.

No apology has been given to Singaporeans.

As if it were not already embarrassing enough, the government now wants to amend the law to make it alright for police to access data from TT and all other contact tracing systems like SafeEntry for investigation in serious crimes.

Like a schoolboy who, after he got caught copying his friend’s answers during a test, says he didn’t know that it was not allowed and gets his rich father to pressure the school into allowing copying during “important” tests?

The problem is not about the police using the data to investigate serious crimes.

Rather, it is about an arrogant government that takes Singaporeans’ trust for granted, does not even have the decency to apologise when mistakes have been made, and then tries ways and means to legitimise its actions.

If the government has a heart for the people, it will be upfront about its actions from the start, and not only when it has been caught. 

Singaporeans should not be taken for a ride, and their trust should not be taken advantage of.

SDA Chairman’s Office

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