Too much personal data required for fitness initiative

My office recently asked all staff to sign up for the National Steps Challenge, organised by the Health Promotion Board (HPB).

Applicants would be issued a fitness tracker, such as a Fitbit device.

However, when I was signing up for the programme, I was alarmed at the amount of personal information required: full name, identity card number, height, weight, age, gender, and home address.

If the programme is basically to encourage Singaporeans to be active, why is all this information needed and what might it be used for?

Due to data privacy concerns, I did not sign up for the programme.

While the National Steps Challenge has good intentions, the HPB should clarify certain issues.

Although applicants receive the fitness tracker for free, who actually owns the device and the data on it? If it is the HPB, how would it use this data?

With the Personal Data Protection Act in place, public agencies have a greater responsibility in ensuring that personal data is not misused or compromised.

Databases can be compromised by hackers and errant employees, and government bodies should share personal data only on a need-to-know basis.

In the Government's Smart Nation push and greater use of technology, personal data and privacy should, all the more, be protected.

Lynne Tan Sok Hiang (Ms)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 24, 2016, with the headline 'Too much personal data required for fitness initiative'. Print Edition | Subscribe