WP supports law limiting police use of contact tracing data: Pritam
The Workers' Party supported changes to the law passed yesterday to restrict the use of contact tracing data to serious crimes, with Leader of the Opposition Pritam Singh saying that Singaporeans' right to privacy will be better protected with it than without.
Mr Singh said the move to confine the use of TraceTogether data to seven types of serious crimes constitutes a "significant reduction" of the wide ambit of Section 20 of the Criminal Procedure Code, which empowers the police to obtain any data under Singapore's jurisdiction for probes.
He encouraged people to download and use the TraceTogether app or token, despite concerns they might have. "It's the safety of the entire community that is at stake insofar as Covid-19 is concerned," he said.
The WP's stance is that Singapore's top priority should be to tackle the pandemic's public health and economic effects, said Mr Singh, the party chief. Anything that compromises this priority has to give way unless there are overwhelming good reasons, he added.
The Progress Singapore Party opposed the Bill and called on the Government to "keep its original promise".
Data collected by TraceTogether and other contact tracing systems should be solely for the purpose of contact tracing, as several ministers had pledged, Non-Constituency MP Leong Mun Wai said.
Mr Leong asked if the Bill was necessary, as the police already have "broad powers" under the Criminal Procedure Code to access documents, people's computers and decryption data for investigations.
Most of the MPs from the People's Action Party who spoke during the debate yesterday acknowledged the balance that the proposed changes struck between preserving privacy and confidence in the contact tracing systems and ensuring the police's ability to solve major crimes would not be hindered, especially as the pandemic continues to rage.
But several spoke out against what they saw as the restrictive nature of the changes and their potential to hinder police work.