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PSP opposes Bill, calls on Govt to 'keep its original promise' on data

PSP opposes Bill, calls on Govt to 'keep its original promise' on data

Source: Straits Times
Article Date: 03 Feb 2021
Author: Fabian Koh

Was the Bill necessary, as the police already have "broad powers" under the Criminal Procedure Code to access documents, people's computers and decryption data for investigations: NCMP Leong Mun Wai

The Progress Singapore Party (PSP) yesterday opposed the Bill that would confine the use of contact tracing data in police investigations to serious crimes, calling on the Government to "keep its original promise".

Data collected by TraceTogether and other contact tracing systems should be solely for the purpose of contact tracing, as several ministers had pledged, Non-Constituency MP Leong Mun Wai said.

Quoting PSP chief Tan Cheng Bock, Mr Leong said backtracking is not good politics, and erodes citizens' confidence in political institutions. "The PSP is not objecting to this Bill for the sake of objecting," he said, questioning the Government's trade-off between public safety and public trust.

He asked if the Bill was necessary, as the police already have "broad powers" under the Criminal Procedure Code to access documents, people's computers and decryption data for investigations. He also said he found it "quite unbelievable that such criminals would carry their TraceTogether tokens while committing such crimes".

Noting that Singaporeans have "long accepted some erosion over their civil rights and, by extension, their privacy, in order to ensure public safety", Mr Leong said the contact tracing systems SafeEntry and TraceTogether can compromise privacy quite extensively.

"The two programmes together allow the Government to easily create a map of where an indi-vidual goes and who he asso-ciates with."

Asked by Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Indranee Rajah if he would object to the data being used to investigate a child kidnapping, even if there was no other evidence, Mr Leong said his party's position would not change, adding that the PSP prioritises public trust over public safety.

Pointing to the more than 70 per cent of people who had downloaded the TraceTogether app or collected the tokens by December, he said many believed their data would be used only for contact tracing, following remarks by Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan and Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean, and accused the Government of breaking the people's trust.

Mr Leong said public trust in the Government is a cornerstone of Singapore's political system, adding: "This very same trust enabled the Government to combat and curtail the Sars crisis in 2003, and the H1N1 crisis in 2009."

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

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