Necessary to publish IC numbers of individuals sometimes

We refer to Mr Sean Lim Wei Xin's letter (NRIC numbers still appearing in public notices; Nov 23).

In carrying out our statutory obligations, the Ministry of Law and the Supreme Court publish only the minimum required identifiable information.

This is to safeguard the privacy of individuals.

Nonetheless, there are occasions when unique identifiers such as NRIC numbers need to be published in the public interest, and this is done in accordance with the Government's data protection guidelines as governed by the Public Sector Governance Act as well as the law applicable to the situation.

The Bankruptcy Act and rules require the office of the Official Assignee to advertise a bankruptcy order on a creditor's bankruptcy application; the notice of every certificate of annulment of bankruptcy order; and the notice of every discharge of bankruptcy, in local newspapers.

The advertisement of the bankruptcy order enables creditors to be alerted to a bankruptcy so that they may file their claims against the individual's estate and take necessary measures to protect their interests.

It also enables banks and other financial institutions to close or suspend the bankrupt individual's accounts and forward information on the individual's assets to the Official Assignee.

Likewise, publication of a certificate of annulment of bankruptcy order or the notice of discharge of bankruptcy informs the public, including banks and financial institutions, of the change in the individual's legal status.

As two or more persons may share the same name, it is important and necessary to include the NRIC number of a bankrupt individual in the advertisement of the bankruptcy order to ensure that the person is correctly identified.

If a wrong individual is identified as bankrupt, it could lead to inconvenience to the individual as well as other persons dealing with the wrongly identified individual.

Mr Lim also asked if the National Library Board (NLB) would consider expunging NRIC numbers from archives in the NewspaperSG database.

The NewspaperSG portal provides a digital reproduction of what has already been published in newspapers and is in the public domain.

NLB does not make changes to what has been published, as this is publicly available information.

We thank Mr Lim for his feedback.

Nooraini Hamzah (Ms)

Director, Corporate Communications

Ministry of Law

Julie Sim (Ms)

Director, Office of Public Affairs

Supreme Court of Singapore

Wai Yin Pryke (Mrs)

Director, National Library

National Library Board

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 05, 2018, with the headline 'Necessary to publish IC numbers of individuals sometimes'. Print Edition | Subscribe