Personal data of 14,200 with HIV leaked online
At a press conference on Jan 28, Minister for Health Gan Kim Yong apologised to the public after the personal information of those recorded in Singapore to be HIV positive between 1989 and Jan 2013 was found to be compromised online.
A total of 16,600 people had their personal data leaked online, after confidential information was mishandled by former Head of National Public Health Unit (NPHU).
Of that number, 14,200 had been diagnosed HIV-positive and comprised 5,400 Singaporeans and 8,800 foreigners.
The remaining 2,400 were their contacts. The data included names, identification numbers and HIV status.
The Ministry of Health was notified of the leak on Jan 22 and a police report was made on Jan 23.
The information was in the illegal possession of Mikhy K Farrera Brochez, a US citizen who came to Singapore in 2008 and was later jailed in 2017 for several fraud and drug-related offences and lying to the Ministry of Manpower about his own HIV status.
Brochez allegedly obtained the information through the mishandling of information by Singaporean doctor and NPHU's former head, Ler Teck Siang. The two men were partners.
Ler has been charged under the Official Secrets Act for failing to take reasonable care of confidential information regarding HIV-positive patients. This charge is pending.
The data is still in the hands of Brochez, who was deported after he had served his jail term and remains outside Singapore.
Mr Gan said: "We take a serious view of this matter. Our former staff has been charged in court and the case is pending, and we will not hesitate to take stern action against staff who violate security guidelines, abuse their authority or abuse their access to information."
Mr Gan said the ministry had put in place a hotline for those affected to call in as well as counselors should those affected require support.
The police warned that it is an offence to share any of leaked information.
"The police would like to remind the public that it is an offence under the Official Secrets Act (OSA) for any person to be in possession of, communicate or use any of the confidential data that may have been disclosed. Police will not hesitate to take stern action, including prosecution, against those who have breached the OSA.
"A person found guilty of the wrongful possession, communication or use of confidential data shall be liable to a fine not exceeding S$2,000, and to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years.”
Members of the public with information or concerns regarding the information leak can call the MOH hotline on 6325-9220