TraceTogether app security concerns slow app adoption

TraceTogether app security concerns slow app adoption

The adoption of the TraceTogether app and tokens stand at more than 60 percent, getting closer to the 70 percent target required to move to Phase 3.

The Smart Nation and Digital Government Group (SNDGG) said that the figure is “in the low 60 percent”, but did not give a specific number.

This figure was reflected in a YouGov survey conducted last week, which found that 23 percent of people still have not downloaded the TraceTogether app and 11 percent said they downloaded it but then deleted it. 

The survey of more than 1,000 Singaporeans found that awareness of the TraceTogether app has increased. Ninety-eight percent of respondents said they were aware of the app, compared to a similar survey done in April which found that 84 percent knew of the app.

And while privacy concerns about the TraceTogether app have diminished, worries about the app causing battery drain on mobile phones remain a reason for some people not to install it. 

Among those who have not downloaded the app, the top two reasons were that they did not want to turn on Bluetooth all the time, or the app takes up too much battery power. The third most popular reason was that they do not want to download more apps.

Privacy concerns about the TraceTogether App

One of the main reasons for not downloading the TraceTogether app initially – that users were worried that the app would collect their personal information – fell in importance. In last week’s survey, 28 percent cited it as a concern, compared to 45 percent in April. Those aged 25 to 34 were the most concerned about this.

Associate Professor Lawrence Loh from the National University of Singapore’s Business School said that it appears many users are now aware that their data are stored in the device and will not be shared unless there is an infection.
“I think there was some misunderstanding by many potential users at the onset on the collection and use of the data,” said Assoc Prof Loh, the director of the Centre for Governance, Institutions & Organizations.

SNDGG said that both the TraceTogether app and token are “privacy-preserving by design”. 

“No GPS location is collected, and the devices only exchange encrypted and anonymized Bluetooth signals with other TraceTogether devices nearby,” said a spokesperson.

“The Bluetooth data is also automatically deleted after 25 days, and the data is only requested by the authorities when a user is confirmed to be a COVID-19 positive case.”

Source: Channel News Asia

TraceTogether app will be upgraded for tourists

TraceTogether app will be upgraded for tourists

Contact tracing app TraceTogether will be upgraded by next month to allow tourists to do SafeEntry check-ins at shopping malls and dining venues as Singapore gets ready to move to phase three of its reopening. –

The app, which is mandatory for overseas visitors, will come with a new feature to record and validate their passport numbers during app registration. Validation will be instant by checking against the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority’s database.

“Just as we need to validate users’ NRIC (during app sign-up), we need to check that the visitor has entered a valid passport number and that he has indeed entered Singapore,” a spokesman for the Smart Nation and Digital Government Office said.

With this addition, tourists will be able to scan the SafeEntry QR code using their TraceTogether app. By the end of the year, this will be the only way for them to enter most premises.

The TraceTogether app so far for the tourists?

In the absence of the QR code scanner, tourists have been asked to show their passports and the TraceTogether app on their phones. Venue operators also need to manually enter passport details in a computer or a mobile device running the SafeEntry (Business) application to record the visit.

Tourists have also been able to use their mobile phone camera to scan the SafeEntry QR code to fill up a Web form to enter malls, restaurants, and cinemas.

But the Webform will be phased out when Singapore switches to a new Covid-19 management tool, TraceTogether only SafeEntry, for mandatory digital contact tracing.

Similarly, Singaporeans and permanent residents will not be able to use their SingPass mobile app to scan the SafeEntry QR code to enter places. And venue operators will not scan barcodes on NRICs to allow people entry.

The nationwide switchover is slated to start at the end of the year to allow Singapore to host more travelers, business activities, and social gatherings.

TraceTogether only SafeEntry combines what are now two separate systems: TraceTogether, to identify those in close contact with Covid-19 patients; and SafeEntry – which digitally checks in visitors at most venues – to determine which premises have been visited by those infected with the coronavirus.

an asian chinese female enjoying her dessert chocolate cake during her tea break in cafeteria while practicing social distancing

Phase 3 in Singapore could last over a year

Minister of Health said that Singaporeans must be prepared because phase 3 could last more than what it’s expected.

People must be prepared for a Phase 3 that could last for a “prolonged period” of a year or more, said Minister for Health Gan Kim Yong on Wednesday.

This is even as the multi-ministry task force tackling Covid-19 has laid out a roadmap that could see the country enter the third phase of its reopening by the end of this year.

Mr. Gan, who co-chairs the task force, said in Parliament that Phase 3 would not be a return to the pre-pandemic status quo. It will instead be a “new normal” that will last until either the rest of the world gets the virus under control, or effective treatment or vaccine is developed.

“In this context, we need to put in place the measures and equip ourselves with the tools which will enable us to stay safe, as we allow greater flexibility to live, work and even celebrate major life events during Phase 3,” he said.

The minister was responding to a question from Tampines GRC Member of Parliament Cheng Li Hui, who had asked about the criteria considered when considering the maximum number of people allowed for events such as weddings.

Such factors include the frequency of such activities, the potential risk of specific types of events as well as whether additional safety measures can be effectively put in place to mitigate these risks, said Mr. Gan.  

When did Singapore enter Phase 3?

Singapore slowly entered phase 3 at the beginning of October, when some restaurants and public places were authorized to open their doors to the public.

 “There is a lot of effort given to detail about the kind of measures put in place between the phases, but more importantly, it is also about the wider strategies to achieve the best outcomes.”, said Associate Professor Josip Car at the moment.

singapore, phase three

Singapore slowly entering phase three

Singaporeans can expect to move into phase three reopening in a calibrated and cautious manner, in the same way, restrictions are being eased in the different stages of the current phase two.

But they see the blurred boundaries between phase two and phase three as a good approach.

Associate Professor Josip Car, director of the Center for Population Health Sciences at Nanyang Technological University’s Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, said this lack of a clear-cut difference shows effective policymaking in action, as changes are more likely to be accepted when introduced incrementally and gradually, helping to ensure that the public understands the measures and remains calm.

“There is a lot of effort given to detail about the kind of measures put in place between the phases, but more importantly, it is also about the wider strategies to achieve the best outcomes.”

Phase two reopening of the Singapore economy came into force on June 19, which, among other things, allows most businesses and social activities to resume, with safeguards in place.

What to expect of phase three?

With further easing of restrictions in the past few weeks, such as doubling the number of people at weddings and the lifting of border restrictions to visitors from Australia – excluding Victoria state – and Vietnam, many have wondered if Singapore has unofficially entered phase three.

Professor Alex Cook, vice-dean of research at the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, however, cautioned that it would be “silly” to give each of these incremental changes a name, asserting that Singaporeans cannot expect to be back to normal entirely until mass vaccination begins.

Tempering public expectations, Professor Teo Yik Ying, Dean of the NUS Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, said that one should not anticipate a significant relaxing of measures in phase three, and expect the entire suite of activities that were previously barred to return. Rather, phase three is a state in which Singapore will remain with a certain degree of precautions to allow economic and social activities to carry on.

Source: The Star