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Singapore public servant, another woman to be charged over COVID-19 data leak

Creative abstract cyber crime, online piracy and internet web hacking concept: 3D render illustration of the macro view of metal handcuffs and wooden judge mallet, gavel or hammer on laptop notebook computer keyboard with selective focus effect
(PHOTO: Getty Images) (scanrail via Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — A female civil servant and another woman, both 36, will be charged on Wednesday (14 April) over alleged leaks of the daily updates of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Singapore prior to their official release, the police said on Tuesday (13 April).

The public servant will be charged under the Official Secrets Act (OSA) and the Computer Misuse Act (CMA), the police said in a statement. The other woman will be changed under the OSA.

The public servant will be charged for wrongful communication of information under the OSA and gaining access to computer materials for an unlawful purpose under the CMA. The other woman will be charged with soliciting wrongful communication of information along with other similar offences under the OSA.

On 16 April 202, the police received a report from a member of the public that the number of daily confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Singapore for that day had allegedly been leaked online even though the Ministry of Health (MOH) had not publicly released the figures as yet.

Investigations revealed that the public servant, who is an authorised recipient of classified information on COVID-19, had allegedly shared the number of new COVID-19 cases on 22 occasions in March and April last year with members of a private chat group who were not authorised to receive the classified information.

The members were part of a group on social chat app WeChat, according to a police statement last year.

Some members of the chat group who were not authorised to receive the information allegedly further disseminated it before its official release.

A total of 64 people who had wrongfully received and/or communicated the information will be issued with stern warnings or written advisories for offences under the OSA.

The other woman who was charged was a member of the chat group. Investigations revealed she had asked the civil servant to check on the case status of a patient who had tested positive for COVID-19.

The civil servant then allegedly accessed a government COVID-19 database to retrieve confidential records and provided the information to the woman.

A person who is convicted of the offence of wrongful communication of information under the OSA faces a fine of up to $2,000 and a maximum two-year jail term.

A person who is convicted of unauthorised access to computer materials under the CMA faces a fine of up to $5000 and a maximum two-year jail term.

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