back to article Singapore changes the rules and will now use COVID-19 contact-tracing app data in criminal cases

The Singapore government has decided to use data gathered by its TraceTogether COVID-19-coronavirus contact-tracing app in criminal investigations. The reuse of the info was revealed yesterday in Singapore's parliament, after Deputy Speaker Christopher De Souza was asked if the data will be used in crime probes and, if so, …

  1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Hereditary leader of the opposition

    Sounds like a reasonable system

    1. David 132 Silver badge

      Re: Hereditary leader of the opposition

      Didn't the Duchy of Grand Fenwick have the same arrangement in The Mouse That Roared?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Hereditary leader of the opposition

        Does Sir Grovel ChamberPot have any heirs?

  2. doublelayer Silver badge

    What worried people all along

    I have tried to be willing to acknowledge the usefulness of contact tracing applications, but this is exactly what people feared when they were launched. This is the underhanded action that can kill trust in a government, and for governments already lacking it due to pervasive privacy violations, also kill the benefits of contact tracing. When we're faced with a crisis where public participation is required to avoid causing a great deal of preventable harm, eroding the public's trust in government is among the worst things that can be done. At this point, I think the operators of app stores should remove the Trace Together application as malware; only a decentralized tracing app can ever be permitted, and even those must be subject to review.

    1. Howard Sway Silver badge

      the operators of app stores should remove the Trace Together application as malware

      I suspect the operator of at least one of the app stores has already looked at all these contact tracing apps, and seen them as an important part of their future business model. Or thought that they were a bit amateurish compared to their own tracking and snooping capabilities, but best not mention that too loudly, eh?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What worried people all along

      You think that because you didn't install the tracking app on your phone then nobody can track you? Everyone is being tracked these days by multiple agencies and corporations.

      <Joke> I'm posting anonymously to prevent myself being tracked.</Joke>

    3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: What worried people all along

      I think you're too generous. I'm far more persuaded by analyses like Bruce Schneier's or Ross Anderson's: I don't think contract tracing is significantly productive in the first place.

      Couple that with the obvious, inevitable, and unpreventable temptation for abuse by both authorities and private parties, and I doubt any small benefit comes at acceptable cost.

      Nor would I put much faith in the various proposed protocols for anonymized, decentralized tracking. I've skimmed through a number of those, and I think the differential-privacy leak is still unacceptable.

  3. alain williams Silver badge

    Is anyone really surprised ?

    Especially in an authoritarian state like Singapore.

    The same is likely to happen elsewhere. Initially it will only be for "exceptional cases", you know the ones: paedophones, terrorists, drug dealers ... The scope will secretly widen over time.

    1. trist

      Re: Is anyone really surprised ?

      This is totally unprecedented. Nothing like this happened when the NSA laid it's eyes on our metadata, our gmails and our phone calls before that.

      1. TheMeerkat Bronze badge

        Re: Is anyone really surprised ?

        “Nothing like this happened when the NSA laid it's eyes”

        Except now you welcome it, while before you were supporting Snowden...It so easy to make people agree with totalitarianism - just scare them a bit and they will join the ranks of supporters of giving the State as much power as it wants.

      2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Is anyone really surprised ?

        Hey, Reg developers: We need a "Poe's Law" option next to the upvote / downvote buttons.

    2. SundogUK Silver badge

      Re: Is anyone really surprised ?

      Oddly enough, if there is any government in the world I would trust to do this, it would be Singapore.

    3. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: Is anyone really surprised ?

      paedophones

      Adults who sound like children? I admit I find high-pitched voices quite annoying but I've no wish to actually lock those people up.

    4. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Is anyone really surprised ?

      Especially in an authoritarian state like Singapore.

      Yes, or in an authoritarian state like the US, the UK, etc.

  4. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    And here we go

    Step 2 in the Authoritarian Government Handbook is now accomplished : pervert a system made for one thing into a system made for something entirely unrelated.

    Congratulations Singapore ! Way to validate the concerns many people were voicing when these tracking apps came out.

    1. Korev Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: And here we go

      I don't see this as a problem at all; since my COVID vaccination I've been able to access the Internet without my phone or laptop and for some reason keep on buying Microsoft products

  5. Potemkine! Silver badge

    "Singapore is a parliamentary democracy"

    ... where only one party has the de-facto right to rule, and there's only one candidate for the presidential elections, all the others having been excluded.

    1. Empty1

      Re: "Singapore is a parliamentary democracy"

      The freer the name, the tighter the control.

      The Democratic republic of .....

      The Peoples republic of......

      The Democratic Peoples republic of ....

      1. David 132 Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: "Singapore is a parliamentary democracy"

        The Liberal Democrats...

    2. SundogUK Silver badge

      Re: "Singapore is a parliamentary democracy"

      This is simply not true.

  6. Jim-234

    Don't think the same thing won't happen elsewhere

    I would suggest that it's reasonable to bet that other governments if they are allowed to put such a "contact tracing system" into place will eventually decide that the data must be used "for the public good" because... (insert whatever crime/sedition is riding a current wave of hysteria).

    Probably something about terrorists or think of the children or rebelling against being imprisoned in your homes en mass or such...

  7. Mike Richards

    UK

    This news sure is going to moisten a lot of groins in the Home Office.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: UK

      The true agenda behind the response to the pandemic will slowly dawn on the dumbed down sheep-like masses. Alas it will be too late.

      Stay Safe! :-D

      1. VBF

        Re: UK

        Which is why I've never installed the UK's Track and Trace app, and have blocked the phone number on my phones. The only "response to the pandemic" I want is the vaccination - hopefully in a few months now.

  8. razorfishsl

    Singapore is basically a dictatorship

  9. handle handle

    Just leave the phone at home ...

    This need to carry the fondleslab is phenomenon younger than a single generation. Leave it in your flat when you walk to the store, pub, drug store, bordello ... you get the idea.

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