My Pet Peeve #18: SafeEntry Check Outs
Still forgetting to check out using SafeEntry.
Psst… read until the end for something spicy you won’t wanna miss out on!
Hi guys, Howard here. It may be the third month of 2021 but COVID-19 is still existent everywhere. With Covid, contact tracing is more important than before, because nobody wants to be at risk of getting the disease, right? Whatever means are given, not every aspect is perfect. Let me explain.
You know what I dislike? Forgetting to check out from SafeEntry. I’m sure I’m not the only one that finds it annoying to realise I’ve forgotten to check out from a venue after a looooooooooooooong while; you’ll definitely feel annoyed too. Checking in to a venue using SafeEntry is one thing; in fact, I’m okay with that additional step required in order to enter a venue. But once you show your SafeEntry check in pass to the entrance staff, you’ll put away your phone and the thought of SafeEntry will just slip off your mind that you may even forget to check out from that venue upon leaving.
To be fair, the government said that checking out from a venue is not compulsory although encouraged, according to the SafeEntry website. Maybe that’s why people like us forget to check out from their SafeEntry? Touch wood, but if a confirmed case was at the venue you were at earlier and you forget to check out throughout the whole time outside, you might be mistakenly warned that you might be a close contact (which nobody wanted it to happen). I might have forgotten to check out from a lot of venues a couple of times, but I certainly wish that I won’t be informed that I was near a confirmed case. In fact, as of the time I’m writing this writeup, I wasn’t near to any confirmed case once; hopefully it remains that way.
Actually, it’s more on the TraceTogether mobile app users (including myself) who’ll have that annoying pet peeve. I don’t think the token users can relate, because they can’t even check out at all using their tokens! TraceTogether is not so advanced yet to automatically check you in as you enter the venue; you still have to check in manually. But then again, there’s privacy concerns that the government may track your location if you can check in and out automatically… But for now, there are home screen widgets for you to check in and out from a venue conveniently, only if you remember.
TraceTogether gone ‘rogue’
DISCLAIMER: I know it’s too late to say this and I have no say about it, but this is just my thoughts anyway.
Now it’s time I get nitpicky against one of the government’s actions. Back in early January’s parliamentary session, the government announced that the TraceTogether data can be used for criminal investigations (see CNA’s article), which sparked an outcry from many people regarding data privacy and location tracking. (P.S. if you think that’s bad enough, WhatsApp is also in the bad spotlight for forcing users to agree to share their data to their parent company, Facebook, which has since got its deadline postponed due to the international outcry. Stay tuned for the next writeup cuz it’s about WhatsApp.)
At the core, the government stated that TraceTogether only uses Bluetooth signals for contact tracing, but what about SafeEntry using TraceTogether? Since SafeEntry is already a part of TraceTogether, the police can technically extract your location history using the venues you visited using SafeEntry which can bypass location services. But because its Singapore, you don’t see angry mobs protesting outside the parliament house like those in other countries (because one needs a permit to do a demonstration in Singapore). Instead, they took the matter online.
Many people also felt betrayed (see Today’s article) by the government to the point that they want to use less of TraceTogether or boycott it altogether, because they have previously assured us that the TraceTogether data will only be used for contact tracing purposes and not for anything else. Because of these reactions, the government assured us again that the TraceTogether data will only be used for serious crimes (see The Straits Times’ article). But then again, potential criminals won’t be that stupid to turn on their TraceTogether to commit crimes, because it was revealed to the public that it can be used for criminal investigations! This isn’t enough to appease us as the government is still adamant about using the TraceTogether data for criminal investigations, nevermind the owning up to their mishandling. This is why we have to take the government’s word with a pinch of salt, in case they abuse their power (or flip prata). Because of that, trust is broken and it’s up to the government on how they intend to fix this mess. Honestly, if the TraceTogether data is only used for contact tracing purposes right from the start, this big hoo-ha wouldn’t have happened. Don’t even use it for criminal investigations at all! Geez.
As a ‘consolation’, you can also send an email to the government to delete your TraceTogether data or return your token. Till then, guess it’s time I return my token since my school made the use of TraceTogether app compulsory even before the token came about.
UPDATE (11 March): With the latest update to the TraceTogether app, the government is hell bent on enforcing their new amendments (which includes using the data for criminal investigations) by forcing their users to agree to the new terms and conditions to continue using the app. Sounds familiar? That’s because WhatsApp also forces their users to agree to their new terms and conditions in order to continue using their messaging services.
Now, back to the main point. Remember that SafeEntry still exists so that you can remember to check out once you leave the place (that includes myself, too). Also, if you don’t commit any crimes, chances of the police using your contact tracing data will be slim. Till then, be safe. Howard out!