Coronavirus pandemic

Civil servant arrested for leaking info on number of virus cases

The number of daily confirmed Covid-19 cases in Singapore for April 16 had been leaked on Instagram before MOH officially released the figure.
The number of daily confirmed Covid-19 cases in Singapore for April 16 had been leaked on Instagram before MOH officially released the figure.PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM MOH.GOV.SG

A civil servant has been arrested after she allegedly shared the number of new Covid-19 cases in Singapore with members in a private group who were not authorised to receive the information.

In a statement yesterday, the police said they have arrested the 35-year-old Singaporean woman under the Official Secrets Act (OSA) and Computer Misuse Act.

The woman is an authorised recipient of classified information on Covid-19.

She was also found to have accessed a government database without permission to get information on a Covid-19 patient.

The police received a report of the incident last Thursday at 7.43pm from a member of the public who claimed that the number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Singapore for that day had been leaked on an Instagram story post.

This is even though the Ministry of Health (MOH) had not officially released the figure yet.

Preliminary investigations found that the woman had shared the number of new Covid-19 cases - 728 - for April 16 with members in an online private WeChat group who were not authorised to receive the classified information.

The members of the group then disseminated the information before MOH officially released the announcement in its daily update.

Further investigations found that she had shared the daily Covid-19 case figures with the WeChat group on several other occasions.

 
 
 
 

She also accessed a government Covid-19 database without authorisation, to retrieve confidential records of a patient who tested positive for the virus, and gave the information to her friend. The police are investigating the case.

Those found guilty of wrongful communication of information under the OSA can be fined up to $2,000 and jailed for up to two years.

The police also warned that unauthorised recipients should not further circulate the confidential information received, as they may be similarly liable under the OSA.

If found guilty of unauthorised access to computer materials under the Computer Misuse Act, the woman can be fined up to $5,000 and jailed up to two years.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 24, 2020, with the headline 'Civil servant arrested for leaking info on number of virus cases'. Subscribe