People were leery of TraceTogether for one reason: it felt too much like a Big Brother scenario, where your every move is monitored.
Initially, the authorities promised that TraceTogether data will only be used for contact-tracing, but subsequently, it was altered to include investigations for serious cases.
Exactly how serious would a crime need to be to warrant the use of such data? How about a murder?
Remember The Punggol Field Murder? TraceTogether Data Was Reportedly Requested for That Case
On 2 Feb 2021, Minister of State for Home Affairs Desmond Tan revealed in parliament that the police had requested for, and obtained, TraceTogether data for an investigation into a murder back in May 2020.
According to the The Straits Times, the case in question is the Punggol Field murder.
Unfortunately, no useful data was found as the suspect did not install the app on his phone.
It was clarified that it was the only request for such data thus far from the police.
ST added that the data is believed to have been extracted from the victim’s phone as TraceTogether tokens were not rolled out yet.
TraceTogether Data Can Be Requested For Serious Cases
When it was announced that TraceTogether data can be obtained for investigations into serious crimes, the public outcry was real.
It was previously stated that the data will only be used for contact-tracing.
The change to the law, allowing TraceTogether data to be used for investigations into serious crimes, was approved in Parliament on Tuesday.
Here are the seven categories of serious offences:
- Offences involving the use or possession of corrosive substances, offensive/dangerous weapons, e.g possession of firearms, armed robbery with the use of firearms.
- Terrorism-related offences under the Terrorism (Suppression of Bombings) Act, Terrorism (Suppression of Financing) Act, and Terrorism (Suppression of Misuse of Radioactive Material).
- Crimes against persons where the victim is seriously hurt or killed e.g murder, culpable homicide not amounting to murder, voluntarily causing grievous hurt (where the victim’s injury is of a life-threatening nature).
- Drug trafficking offences that attract the death penalty.
- Escape from legal custody where there is a reasonable belief that the subject will cause imminent harm to others.
- Serious sexual offences, e.g rape, sexual assault by penetration.
TraceTogether data does not track your location but uses Bluetooth to “ping” other TraceTogether devices in the vicinity.
The Punggol Field Murder
Back on 10 May 2020, a 38-year-old man was stabbed near a bus stop in Punggol Field Road at around 11.10pm while out on a jog.
The Singapore Police Force (SPF) arrested a suspect for the murder, 20-year-old Surajsrikan Diwakar Mani Tripathi, on 16 May 2020 at around 2.45am.
He was subsequently charged for murder on 17 May 2020.
The suspect has been brought back to the crime scene and the case is now before the courts.
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