Singapore Police now have entry to contact tracing knowledge


The news: The police can access data collected by the Singapore contact tracing system covid-19 for use in criminal investigations, said a senior official on Monday. The announcement contradicts the privacy policy originally set when the government launched the TraceTogether app in March 2020, and has been criticized as a setback immediately after mandatory participation in contact tracing.

Officials said the policy says data could "only be used for the purpose of tracing people who may be exposed to Covid-19," but the legal reality in Singapore is that the police have access to any data for criminal investigations – and these contact tracing data were no different. The Tracer's privacy policy was changed on January 4, 2021 to clarify "how the Code of Criminal Procedure applies to all data under the Singapore jurisdiction".

Early supporter: TraceTogether, accessed through a smartphone app or small portable device, is used by nearly 80% of Singapore's 5.7 million people. It was the first of the major Bluetooth contact tracking apps to be unveiled in the spring of 2020, and it stores data more centrally than the Apple-Google system that is used in many other places around the world. Singapore itself ruled out the use of the Apple-Google system, as officials there wanted more detailed information on infections. Attending contact tracing used to be voluntary, but the government reversed that late last year, and now most places where people work, shop, and congregate have mandatory check-ins.

The country's approach to fighting the pandemic has been compelling in a number of ways, not just in terms of contact tracing technology. For example, people caught without a mask in public will face heavy fines.


Steven Gregory