Data from TraceTogether was accessed once by the Police in May last year to investigate into a case of murder which took place in Punggol — in line with their powers under the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC).
This was said by Minister of State for Ministry of Home Affairs Desmond Tan in Parliament on Tuesday (2 Feb), where he was responding to questions from Leader of the Opposition Pritam Singh and Non-Constituency Member of Parliament (MP) Leong Mun Wai on police’s use of TraceTogether data and when it was first accessed for such a purpose.
The COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) (Amendment) Bill, which was introduced by Minister-in-charge of the Smart Nation Initiative Vivian Balakrishnan on Monday, seeks to limit the Police’s access to TraceTogether data to seven categories of serious crimes, including murder and terrorism offences.
It was passed on Tuesday after a lengthy debate between the incumbent and alternative parties in the Parliament.
The Bill was announced last month after Mr Tan revealed on 4 January that the Police can access the data from TraceTogether for the purpose of their investigation.
The MPs voiced concerns from their residents over the Police’s access to the data, as this was contrary to the prior assurance made by various Ministers and agencies last year that the data will only be used for contact tracing purposes.
Specifically, Dr Balakrishnan had said unequivocally on at least two occasions that the data from TraceTogether will only be used for contact tracing.
Most recently, Dr Balakrishnan told the House on Tuesday that the government acknowledges its error in failing to state that data from TraceTogether is not exempt from the CPC’s scope.
According to The Straits Times, the murder case mentioned by Mr Tan in Parliament on Tuesday took place on 10 May last year, in which a man was stabbed multiple times at a bus stop opposite Block 227A Sumang Lane.
The victim, Tay Rui Hao, 38, was said to be out on a late-night jog prior to the incident.
A 20-year-old Singaporean man was charged on 17 May last year for allegedly murdering Mr Tay.
According to the Police, the suspect, Surajsrikan Diwakar Mani Tripathi, was identified and subsequently arrested on 16 May last year at 2.45 am following round-the-clock investigations, extensive ground enquiries and expansive review of CCTV footage.
Preliminary investigations revealed that the man is not known to the victim and is believed to have acted alone.
Mr Tan on Tuesday noted in Parliament that investigating officers could not retrieve any data that may be useful to the murder case, as the app was not installed on the suspect’s phone.