Nearly 30,000 say ‘No’ to tracking devices for Singaporeans

Photo used for a petition shows a woman with a device on her wrist. Image:
Photo used for a petition shows a woman with a device on her wrist. Image:

Nearly 30,000 people and counting have signed an online petition opposing the use of human tracking devices for COVID-19 contract tracing, citing privacy concerns. 

The online petition was launched over the weekend after Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said in Parliament on Friday that such devices could be rolled out to everyone in Singapore. This came on the heels of the ineffective TraceTogether app, which he said does not work well on Apple devices due to technical difficulties, meaning it cannot be made compulsory. 

Vivian did not mention whether the use of the wearable device would be mandated. 

“We – as free, independent, and lawful members of the public of Singapore – condemn the device’s implementation as blatant infringements upon our rights to privacy, personal space, and freedom of movement,” the online petition started by a man named Wilson Low read.

“We reject the notion that the non-efficacy of the Trace Together initiative be superceded by a regime that could potentially require all members of the public (regardless of their age, susceptibility to disease, or health status) to give up these rights under fear – not of infection from Covid-19 – but of prosecution by the state.”  

The TraceTogether app was developed by the government’s tech agency, or GovTech, to identify people who had come into contact with COVID-19 patients via wireless Bluetooth technology. It was supposed to be useful for those who could not recall the people they were in close proximity to for extended periods. 

On the Apple Store, the app has an average of 2.5-star rating. 

Singapore was ranked the 11th most-surveilled city in the world last year by tech research firm Comparitech with roughly 86,000 cameras keeping an eye on all 5.6 million of us. 

The city-state has also stepped up its use of face-recognition technology at the airport and land checkpoints. 

Other stories to check out:

Singapore 11th most-surveilled city in the world: study
Changi’s Terminal 4 trials face- and eye-scanning of Singaporean travelers

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