When someone tells you a secret and urges you not to divulge that information to anyone, the nice thing to do would be to respect their wishes.
But if it was juicy enough, the fun (but wrong) thing to do would be to tell every single person on your contact list.
Even if you were to give in to your desire to leak the secret, the most you’d get is a look of disappointment, and maybe some angry emojis on WhatsApp.
In a government context, however, a secret is much more than some mundane gossip. If you happen to leak government secrets, well, you might just end up in jail.
2 Women, Including 36YO Civil Servant, Caught Leaking Confidential COVID-19 Information
And that’s exactly what a 36-year-old civil servant did last year.
The woman allegedly shared COVID-19 case numbers between March and April 2020 with a chat group.
The woman was authorised to receive the information, but some members of her chat group were not.
Some of these members then further disseminated the numbers before the Ministry of Health (MOH) officially released the information.
But that’s not all she did.
When one of the members of her chat group—also a 36-year-old woman—requested the information of a patient who had tested positive for COVID-19, the civil servant agreed, and reportedly accessed a government COVID-19 database to retrieve the confidential information.
The illegally obtained information was then shared with the woman.
2 Women to Be Charged; 64 Others to Receive Warnings
The women’s offences came to light after a member of the public made a police report on 16 April last year.
The complainant noticed that some COVID-19 case numbers had allegedly been leaked online before MOH officially released the information.
Both women were soon apprehended and will be charged today (14 Apr) for offences under the Official Secrets Act (OSA).
The civil servant will also face a charge of the Computer Misuse Act for unauthorised access to computer materials.
In addition, 64 members of the private chat group who received or disclosed the information without authorisation will be given a stern warning or written advisories for offences under the Act.
Women Could Be Jailed for 2 Years
As you probably guessed, divulging government secrets is a crime that is taken rather seriously by the authorities.
If the women are convicted of wrongful communication of information under the OSA, they face a S$2,000 fine and up to two years’ jail.
Unauthorised access of computer materials under the Computer Misuse Act carries a similar jail term, but with a higher fine of S$5,000.
Everyone likes to leak a secret, but if it’s coming from the government, it’s best to keep those lips sealed and thumbs in your pockets.
Feature Image: GaudiLab / Shutterstock.com