Law to formalise uses of TraceTogether data to be debated in Parliament

The law will state that such data can only be used if there is a "clear and pressing" need for criminal investigations into seven categories of serious offences.
The law will state that such data can only be used if there is a "clear and pressing" need for criminal investigations into seven categories of serious offences.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A law to formalise assurances that data from the Covid-19 TraceTogether contact tracing programme can be used, if needed, for criminal investigation into serious offences only, is set to be debated in Parliament next Monday (Feb 1).

According to the agenda set in the Order Paper issued by the Clerk of Parliament on Friday, the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) (Amendment) Bill will be introduced by the Minister for Law.

It will be introduced on a Certificate of Urgency, which means that the proposed law is urgent enough to be put through all three readings in one parliamentary sitting, instead of separate sessions.

The law will specify that personal data collected through digital contact tracing solutions, which comprise the TraceTogether and SafeEntry programmes, can be used only for contact tracing, the Smart Nation and Digital Government Office (SNDGO) had said on Jan 8.

An exception, however, is if there is a "clear and pressing" need to use that data for criminal investigations into seven categories of serious offences, including murder, terrorism and rape. 

The move follows a public outcry after Minister of State for Home Affairs Desmond Tan revealed on Jan 4 that under the Criminal Procedure Code, police can obtain any data under Singapore's jurisdiction for the purposes of criminal investigations, including TraceTogether data.

It appeared to contradict statements the Government had made earlier last year - that TraceTogether data would be used only for contact tracing in Singapore's fight against the pandemic.

Separately, Mr Christopher de Souza (Holland-Bukit Timah GRC) has also filed an adjournment motion for Monday's Parliament session on the topic of the preservation of Dover Forest in Ulu Pandan.

The issue gained attention in recent weeks after the Housing Board's announcement that new Build-To-Order flats will be offered this year in estates that include Ulu Pandan.

That likely meant the forest would be replaced with housing, according to its zoning in the Urban Redevelopment Authority's Master Plan 2014.

Other issues on the agenda include Singapore's vaccination programme, potholes and landslips reported on public roads recently, and the Ministry of Education's policies and guidelines on students with gender dysphoria.

Nine new Nominated MPs are also set to take their oaths of allegiance on Monday, after they were appointed by President Halimah Yacob for a 2½ year term on Jan 21.