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Civil servant arrested over leak of Covid-19 numbers to private WeChat group

SINGAPORE — A civil servant has been arrested for allegedly posting the number of new Covid-19 cases in Singapore to a private WeChat chat group where the members were not authorised to receive such information. Further investigations by the police revealed that the woman had done this on several other occasions.

Preliminary investigations revealed that the woman, who is a civil servant and an authorised recipient of classified information on Covid-19, had shared the number of new Covid-19 cases for April 16 in Singapore with members of a private WeChat group.

Preliminary investigations revealed that the woman, who is a civil servant and an authorised recipient of classified information on Covid-19, had shared the number of new Covid-19 cases for April 16 in Singapore with members of a private WeChat group.

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SINGAPORE — A civil servant has been arrested for allegedly posting the number of new Covid-19 cases in Singapore to a private WeChat chat group where the members were not authorised to receive such information. Further investigations by the police revealed that the woman had done this on several other occasions.

Besides these, the woman had accessed a government Covid-19 database without authorisation, to retrieve confidential records of a person who tested positive for the disease, and provided the information to her friend.

In a media statement on Thursday (April 23), the police said that they had arrested the 35-year-old Singaporean woman for wrongful communication of information under Section 5(1) of the Official Secrets Act (OSA) and unauthorised access to computer materials under Section 3(1) of the Computer Misuse Act.

On April 16 at 7.43pm, the police received a report from a member of the public saying that the number of daily confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Singapore for that day had been leaked on an Instagram story post, even though the Ministry of Health (MOH) had not officially released the figure.

Preliminary investigations revealed that the woman, who is an authorised recipient of classified information on Covid-19, had shared the figure with members of a private WeChat group.

“Members in the WeChat group, who were not authorised to receive the classified information, further disseminated the information before MOH officially released the information,” the police said.

They stressed that the Government "takes a serious view of any wrongful communication of confidential information and will deal firmly with anyone who does so". 

If convicted under the OSA, the woman could be jailed up to two years and fined up to S$2,000.

The police warned the public that unauthorised recipients should not further circulate confidential information received, because they may be similarly liable under the OSA.

The offence of unauthorised access to computer materials under Section 3(1) of the Computer Misuse Act carries a jail term of up to two years and a fine of up to S$5,000.

Police investigations are ongoing.

Earlier this month, a public servant was arrested after she allegedly shared a draft joint media statement by the Ministry of Social and Family Development and the Ministry of Education with her husband, who is not authorised to receive such information.

The media statement detailed the implementation of full home-based learning by schools and institutes of higher learning, as well as the closure of preschools and student care centres.

Related topics

Covid-19 coronavirus Official Secrets Act MOH

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