Technology   ·   21 Oct   ·   03:10 PM   ·   3 minutes Read

From December, TraceTogether Check-Ins Will Be The Norm

  

See the QR code, scan it with your phone’s camera. Come this December, that won’t be enough. It was announced on Channel News Asia and the Straits Times today that TraceTogether-only Safe Entry (TT-only SE) will be implemented nationwide by December. Want to go pick up something at the supermarket or stroll into the mall to cool-down? You’ll need to install the SafeEntry app or use their TraceTogether token before you’ll be allowed inside.

Currently, TT-only SE is only in use for cinemas – although cinema operators have until 16 November to put it in place. Places that are expected to enforce TT-only SE sooner rather than later are places that larger crowds congregate. These venues include places of worship with upwards of 100 attendees, business events and live performances.

According to an update posted by the Ministry of Health to its website, TT-only check-ins being widely deployed in public places is a prerequisite for start of Phase 3.

In a press conference by the Multi-Ministry Taskforce yesterday, Minister Lawrence Wong said he hopes for uptake of the TraceTogether app and token to rise to 70%, from the current 45%, before Phase 3 begins.

According to an article by Kelly and Anna Pendergrast on The Spinoff, a New Zealand online magazine, four factors are needed for a country’s citizens to be digitally included. Firstly, there is motivation. Now that the worst of the outbreak is over, are they motivated to continue using it? Second, access. Is it widely available and easy to acquire? Third, skills. Are they confident in using it and are they using it correctly? Finally, there is trust. Do people trust that their data is safe?

Motivation is a metric that is hard to measure. Still, a good number of Singaporeans have collected their tokens and installed the app, which is a start. But how many of them use it consistently? When it comes to access, Singapore has no problem. The TraceTogether app is available on all mobile platforms and for those who are not so tech-savvy, they can simply bring their tokens. When it comes to skills, the question is how many are using it correctly? The people who probably have the best idea are probably the SafeEntry officers you see everywhere. With regards to trust, I think the majority of Singaporeans trust the government. But there are always exceptions; when it comes to technology, sometimes it’s not wise to place 100% faith in a system that has been implemented and set up by some many equally fallible humans.

The multiple data breaches, the most recent of which involved local firm Shopback and electronic retailer Courts, also serves to fuel concern about privacy. On r/singapore, a subreddit for Singaporeans and people based in Singapore on social media site Reddit, there was a flurry of comments about today’s news. One person’s comment made a reference to the 2018 SingHealth Data Breach, when PM Lee Hsien Loong’s information was leaked along with 1.5 million SingHealth patients. The commenter then posed a question: how could anybody’s privacy be guaranteed, if the Prime Minister’s information could not be effectively safeguarded?

Together with the 54,000 signatories of this change.org petition, these are likely the Singaporeans who are the most opposed to the TraceTogether system.

Of course, there are those that see no issues with the Government’s TraceTogether system. Among them are four engineers who were invited into the GovTech’s offices to conduct a teardown of a TraceTogether token in June this year. All four experts subsequently concluded that “the token would only perform what it was set out to do”. One also added “the token only contains the components required to do the job”. However, it is important to note that according to an article on academia.sg, none of the experts were allowed to fully dismantle the device.

It remains to be seen if Singapore will go towards the direction of Finland, two-thirds of the population have downloaded the app as of early October. At least we won’t end up like France, where uptake is only a measly 4 percent!

How do you feel about installing the TraceTogether app or collecting your very own TraceTogether token? Like our post on our Facebook group and leave us a comment!