Singapore’s minister of foreign affairs tells the World Economic Forum (WEF) that travel probably won’t resume to normal until about 2024, and that health certificates are the way forward to opening back up.
When Singapore launched its contact tracing app TraceTogether in March, 2020, the government made the mistake of assuring its citizens that their data would only be used for contact tracing and nothing else.
It was a failed promise.
“I made one mistake. I initially made an assurance that the data was only used for contact tracing.
I had not appreciated at that time when I made that assurance that in fact […] police investigating a crime can ask for documents or for information to be released.
I think that caused concern because there was a potential divergence between what I said and what the law stated”– Vivian Balakrishnan, Singapore’s Minister of Foreign Affairs
After 80 to 90 percent of the population opted-in to the State-run contact tracing scheme and believed that the data would “only be used solely for the purpose of contact tracing of persons possibly exposed to covid-19,” the government rescinded its promise in January, 2021, announcing that law enforcement also had access to contact tracing data for criminal investigations.
Then in February, 2021 the government introduced an amendment to a COVID-19 bill that would allow law enforcement to access contact tracing data only for “serious” criminal investigations.
After misleading the Singaporean people on how their data would be used, Singapore’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Smart Nation Initiative Vivian Balakrishnan told panelists at the World Economic Forum’s Global Technology Governance forum last week that he had made a mistake, but that trust in government data collection would be essential for resuming travel safely.
“Health certifications will have to include things like vaccination status, immunity status; there will continue, I think, for the next one or two years, to be a need for PCR tests for signs of active infection” — Vivian Balakrishnan, Singapore’s Minister of Foreign Affairs
“I made one mistake,” said Balakrishnan during a virtual panel on “Rebuilding the Trust to Travel.”
“I initially made an assurance that the data was only used for contact tracing.