In another instance where conspiracy theory becomes fact, a coronavirus tracing app in Singapore can now be used by the police to track citizens for criminal investigations, according to Channel News Asia.
In June, Singapore rolled out a mandatory COVID-19 tracing program that would identify people who had come in contact with virus carriers. The private data is managed by the government’s health department and stored on a server for 25 days. All data is encrypted to restrict access by third-parties.
At the time, we said tracing apps would “usher in a massive surveillance state” where “no one is safe from the government.”
And indeed, that is the case in Singapore. About 80% of the country’s 5.6 million people have downloaded TraceTogether. The government told people that mass adoption of the app would allow the country to reduce social distancing restrictions.
However, as Channel News Asia points out, Singapore Police Force can now access TraceTogether location data for criminal investigations.
“The Government is the custodian of the TT (TraceTogether) data submitted by the individuals and stringent measures are put in place to safeguard this personal data,” Minister of State for Home Affairs Desmond Tan told Parliament on Monday.
A privacy statement on the app originally said the data collected would only be used “for contact tracing purposes.” Immediately after Tan’s comments to Parliament, the privacy statement was updated.
It now reads, “Authorized Police officers may invoke the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) powers to request users to upload their TraceTogether data for criminal investigations.”
As countries rushed to develop tracing apps in 2020 under the guise of mitigating the spread of the virus, it appears the apps are nothing more than surveillance tools for the government to track their citizens, well, at least, in Singapore.