Worrying practice in digital transaction

A commuter using a phone at an MRT station.
A commuter using a phone at an MRT station.PHOTO: ST FILE

In the nation's effort to provide digital services, there has been much concern in ensuring digital security for users.

While that is generally something to be applauded, the authorities should at the same time look at drawing some clearer boundaries so that these digital processes are not abused.

Recently, there was a change of tenant in my mother's Housing Board flat.

The agent asked my mother about her SingPass token, used for two-factor authentication (2FA), and suggested that my mother give her (the agent) the information so that the agent could access my mother's account and update the HDB Web portal.

Housing agents should not be asking people for their SingPass 2FA information. Once someone logs in to a government website using SingPass, that person will be able to carry out many transactions.

Related to this, the Government should have rules which require key transactions to be done only in person and with an authorised witness. This should be the case especially when these transactions concern the elderly.

For example, for HDB matters, the owner ought to approach the HDB branch office and carry out the transaction there in the presence of an HDB officer; and have to go down to Revenue House for property tax matters with an Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore official present.

An official, not a property agent or insurance agent, should witness the transaction.

At the least, the authorities should consider enacting a law to protect vulnerable elderly citizens should the use of SingPass be involved.

Robinson Fernandez

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 20, 2019, with the headline 'Worrying practice in digital transaction'. Print Edition | Subscribe