Parliament: New ERP system 'not a threat to privacy'

Data collected by a satellite-tracked electronic road-pricing (ERP) system Singapore is building will be "aggregated and anonymised", said Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew in response to questions about how privacy will be safeguarded. -- PHOTO: ST FI
Data collected by a satellite-tracked electronic road-pricing (ERP) system Singapore is building will be "aggregated and anonymised", said Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew in response to questions about how privacy will be safeguarded. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Data collected by a satellite-tracked electronic road-pricing (ERP) system Singapore is building will be "aggregated and anonymised", said Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew in response to questions about how privacy will be safeguarded.

In Parliament on Monday, Mr Zainal Sapari (Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC) and Non-Constituency MP Gerald Giam both raised oft-cited concerns regarding privacy, with the latter pointing out that the new ERP system is not subjected to clauses in the Data Protection Act.

Mr Lui said "we will anonymise and aggregate the data", referring to methods data collectors use to mask the identity of those tracked.

For instance, the system will be able to know that a motorist travelled from Toa Payoh Lorong 1 to Cecil Street between 8.05 and 8.30am on a Monday, but it will identify him only as a digit. And this digit will be lumped together with hundreds or thousands of other digits moving in a particular pattern.

Such information will give the Land Transport Authority a timely and accurate picture of traffic conditions, and which it will dessiminate to motorists to help them avoid jams.

Mr Lui said the tender process for the new ERP system - which is expected to be up before 2020 - is ongoing, hence it would not be prudent to comment on its cost.

Meanwhile, MP Cedric Foo (Pioneer) asked how the system - which will be able to charge according to distance clocked as well as place and time - will impact users such as cabbies and commercial vehicle drivers, who tend to "dwell more in congested areas".

Mr Lui said: "We want to make sure that it is an equitable system. Today, you are charged the same rate no matter how long you stay on the road... we will arrive at as fair a system as possible."