SINGAPORE - In the past three years, the Government has reported 41 cases of loss of personal data to the police, said Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean on Wednesday (Feb 13).
Four in five of these cases were reported on the day the loss was discovered, he added.
Mr Teo said in a written reply to a parliamentary question that "loss of personal data by government agencies is reported to the police when there is suspected foul play, or when a physical asset such as a laptop is missing".
These incidents are not reported to Singapore's privacy watchdog, the Personal Data Protection Commission, as it is not its function to investigate government-related incidents, he added, replying on behalf of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
Nominated MP Walter Theseira had also asked what proportion of these cases were disclosed to the public and affected individuals.
Mr Teo said in seven of the 41 incidents, the individuals affected were notified.
In another four, both the individuals and public were told.
Of these 11 cases, it took an average of three weeks for the affected individuals to be notified.
"This was the time taken to identify the exact individuals affected, and assess the extent of loss, to give an accurate report of the situation to the affected individuals, and to recover or safeguard evidence for potential future prosecution," said Mr Teo.
The time needed depends on the incident's complexity, he added.
The other 30 police reports are on the loss of physical assets and no individual's data was compromised.
The lost laptops are protected by encryption, and will be immediately blocked from the government network, Mr Teo said.
"Nevertheless, a lost laptop remains a serious concern and the agency affected will work with the Police to make a best effort to recover it," he added.