Gov't clarifies stance on use of TraceTogether data for police probes

The government will pass a piece of legislation outlining how contract tracing data will be used.

The government has acknowledged its mistake in not disclosing that the data from TraceTogether is not exempt from the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC), following a revelation made in Parliament on 5 January that the police could access TraceTogether data during a criminal investigation under the CPC.

According to minister-in-charge of the Smart Nation Initiative Vivian Balakrishnan and Minister for Home Affairs and for Law K. Shanmugam, “the use of TraceTogether data in criminal investigations would be restricted to serious offences.”

To formalise these assurances, the government will pass a piece of legislation specifying that personal data gathered through digital contact tracing methods, which include the TraceTogether and SafeEntry programmes, could only be used for contract tracing, except when there is a “clear and pressing need” to utilise the data for criminal investigation of serious offences.

“It is not in the public interest to completely deny the Police access to such data, when the safety of the public or the proper conduct of justice is at stake,” a statement read. “If a serious criminal offence has been committed, the Police must be able to use this data to bring the perpetrators to justice, seek redress for the victims, and protect society at large.”

The legislation will allow data collected for COVID-19 contact tracing to be used for police investigations, enquiries, or court proceedings for only the following categories: offences involving the use or possession of corrosive substances, offensive or dangerous weapons; terrorism-related offences under the Terrorism (Suppression of Bombings) Act, Terrorism (Suppression of Financing) Act, and Terrorism (Suppression of Misuse of Radioactive Material); crimes against persons where the victim is seriously hurt or killed; drug trafficking offences that attract the death penalty; escape from legal custody where there is reasonable belief that the subject will cause imminent harm to others; kidnapping; and serious sexual offences.

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