Amendments In Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) Act On The Use Of Personal Digital Contact Tracing Data

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Singapore, 1 February 2021

 On 1 February, the Government will move the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) (Amendment) Bill in Parliament under a Certificate of Urgency[1]. These amendments will give legal force to the statement made in Parliament by Minister-in-Charge of the Smart Nation Initiative, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, and Minister for Home Affairs and for Law, Mr K Shanmugam on 5 January, that the use of TraceTogether (TT) data in criminal investigations would be restricted to serious offences.

Public Agencies’ Use of Personal Data collected by Digital Contact Tracing Tools

2          The Bill will cover the usage of personal contact tracing data recorded in digital contact tracing systems ("personal contact tracing data"). These systems today comprise TT and SafeEntry (SE), as well as BluePass (BP), insofar as it is interoperable with TT. The TT Programme, which includes the TT App and the TT Token, collects proximity data to help identify close contacts. SE is the national check-in system that is a digital equivalent of visitor record logs. BP is a contact tracing system developed by the private sector that can interoperate with TT.

Scope of Legislation

3          The legislative amendments will specify that public sector agencies can use personal contact tracing data recorded in digital contact tracing systems only for the purpose of contact tracing, except where there is a need for police officers and law enforcement officers to use the data for criminal investigations and proceedings in respect of serious offences. There are seven categories of “serious offences”, listed in Annex A. These restrictions on the Government’s use of personal contact tracing data will apply regardless of any other written law stating otherwise.

4          The legislation applies to personal contact tracing data, i.e. data which identifies an individual. It does not prohibit de-identified, aggregated or anonymised data recorded in the digital contact tracing systems from being used in epidemiological research to strengthen our public health response, or to monitor the effectiveness of safe management measures implemented by businesses.

5          Once the pandemic is over, the Government will cease the use of the TT and SE systems. Public agencies must then stop collecting such data, and delete the collected personal contact tracing data as soon as practicable.

Penalties on Unauthorised Access and Use

6          Any public officer (or contractor engaged by a public sector agency) found guilty of unauthorised use or disclosure of personal contact tracing data can be fined up to $20,000, or sentenced to imprisonment for up to 2 years, or both.

Effective Contact Tracing Essential to Fight COVID-19

7          To date, more than 80% of the population have either downloaded the TT App or collected the TT Token. TT, together with other digital contact tracing tools, has shortened the average time required for contact tracing from 4 days to less than 1.5 days.

8          For contact tracing to be carried out effectively, we continue to require the strong support and active usage of the TT App or Token, to keep ourselves and Singapore safe. The Government is introducing this Bill under extraordinary circumstances. The legislation is intended to remove any doubt about what personal contact tracing data can be used for.

9          We must continue to do well in contact tracing so that we can manage the COVID-19 crisis successfully, ringfence cases quickly, and keep community cases from rising. And we need to make good use of technology and data to help contact tracers do their work quickly and effectively.

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 Annex A

 

Categories of Serious Offences to be Covered

 

a.    Unlawful use or possession of corrosive and explosive substances, firearms or dangerous weapons.

b.    An offence relating to the committing, aiding, conspiring, abetting or financing of acts of terrorism under the Terrorism (Suppression of Bombings) Act, Terrorism (Suppression of Financing) Act, and Terrorism (Suppression of Misuse of Radioactive Material) Act.

c.     An offence relating to causing or concealment of death, or maliciously or wilfully causing grievous bodily harm (where the victim’s injury is of a life-threatening nature).

d.    A drug offence that is punishable with death.

e.    An offence relating to escape from custody where there is reasonable belief that the subject will cause imminent harm to others.

f.      Kidnapping, abduction or hostage-taking.

g.    Any form of serious sexual assault such as rape or sexual assault by penetration.

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[1] A Bill, if it is deemed to be urgent, may be put through all three readings in the same sitting. The Bill must be accompanied by a Certificate of Urgency signed by the President.

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Factsheet on Digital Contact Tracing Tools (pdf - 100kb)      
Infographics – Legislation (pdf - 2.3mb)
Infographics – Data Safeguards (pdf - 120kb)

 

For media enquiries, please contact:

Goh Yu Chong (Mr)

Senior Manager, Public and International Communications

Smart Nation and Digital Government Office, Prime Minister’s Office

Tel: 9644 1674

Email: goh_yu_chong@pmo.gov.sg

 

Chia Suat Ning (Ms)

Manager, Public and International Communications

Smart Nation and Digital Government Office, Prime Minister’s Office

Tel: 8182 8052

Email: chia_suat_ning@pmo.gov.sg

Last updated on 31 May 2021