PSP’s Harish Pillay: TraceTogether Data is Safe, Government is Doing What They Promised To Do

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During an online closed door webinar organised by the EU on the issue of digital privacy, Progress Singapore Party (PSP) member Harish Pillay said that in certain serious situations, individuals should compromise on privacy and view privacy as a spectrum rather than a one size fit all concept. He emphasized that he is assured by the Government’s promise of protecting the privacy of the users of TraceTogether (TT), and the use of TT data for contact tracing purposes. 

The following article was written by a I.T professional who attended the same webinar.

As an IT professional, it is part of my work to dissect and analyse digital apps and address their security shortfalls. Have done some research into TraceTogether and I find that it is no different from most tracing technologies and it is technically sound from a privacy point of view. Hence, it thoroughly irks me when I read comments online claiming TT is an invasion into their privacy and that the authorities would be able to track their every movement with TraceTogether.

For you naysayers out there, if you do not trust what the Government or SmartNation office has to say, how about taking the time to read and understand the science and logic behind the TT program. It has been independently verified by privacy engineers worldwide to be non-intrusive and goes to great lengths to protect the privacy of its users.

And if you still do not trust these engineers (well maybe they could be paid millions by the Government to write a glowing review for TT right?? rolls eyes at conspiracy theorists), would you trust the words of a Singapore Opposition Member? Harish Pillay, a PSP member who is a recognised IT expert, surely his words hold weight yar?

I recently attended an online closed door webinar organised by the EU on the issue of digital privacy. The panel of esteemed speakers included Mr Harish Pillay who spoke about the issues of human rights and digital privacy in cyberspace. Unlike some of the hardcore privacy fanatics out there, Harish Pillay very wisely and practically pointed out that privacy is not a one size fit all concept, it is in fact a spectrum. I think this notion of privacy as a spectrum is pertinent as we live in a digital society, where like it or not, our privacy are impacted by technology in many ways which we are unaware of.

Harish added that given the severe pandemic situation we are stuck in, contact tracing is an essential and useful function. However for it to work, privacy has to be moderated. He opined that there are times when privacy has to be moderated to a certain angle and at time shifted to another angle. This is a fact of life and the severe circumstances in which we live in. He also said plainly that very often there would be legitimate reasons why privacy considerations need to be given up. Privacy is not an unshakeable ideal or concept that cannot be tweaked for the circumstances we live in. This is again a sound analysis. Its just sometimes, we get seized by absolute definitions of privacy which is frankly, not very practical in today’s world.

More importantly, Harish also spoke about the need for education and how important is it for us the people to be educated on data and how data is being used. This is to me, the most salient point as very often, when people discuss privacy, there are not enough considered arguments which are underpinned by technical understanding. So please, be educated on how the TT app works and stop spreading the conspiracy theories about big brother. This is a great point and people should start educating themselves rather than living in ignorance and fear!

And to those who are still worried about TraceTogether, Harish himself said, and I totally agree, that there is no need to worry because the TraceTogether data is safe and he is ok with how the Government is doing what they have promised to do. If even the IT expert from one of Singapore most credible opposition says TraceTogether is safe, so you still choose to believe in your conspiracy theories and wear a tinfoil hat?

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