Asia

2 women to be charged under OSA, including civil servant who allegedly leaked Covid-19 numbers 22 times

SINGAPORE – Two women, one of them a civil servant, will be charged with offences under the Official Secrets Act (OSA) on Wednesday (April 14).

The civil servant had allegedly leaked the number of Covid-19 cases in Singapore on 22 occasions between March and April 2020.

She had also allegedly accessed a government Covid-19 database for information about a patient who had tested positive for the virus on behalf of another woman. That woman will also be charged under the OSA.

In a statement on Tuesday, the police said that on April 16, 2020, it received a report from a member of the public that the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in Singapore that day had allegedly been leaked online even though the Ministry of Health (MOH) had not officially released the figures yet.

Police investigations revealed that the 36-year-old civil servant, who was an authorised recipient of confidential information on Covid-19, had allegedly shared the number of new Covid-19 cases on 22 occasions with members of a private chat group who were not authorised to receive the information.

Some members of the chat group then allegedly disseminated it before MOH officially released the information.

The civil servant will be charged with wrongful communication of information under Section 5(1) of the OSA.

Another 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, said the police.

Police investigations also revealed that another 36-year-old woman, who was a member of the chat group, had allegedly 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.

For accessing the government Covid-19 database for this unlawful purpose, the civil servant will be charged with unauthorised access to computer materials under Section 3(1) of the Computer Misuse Act.

The other woman will be charged with soliciting wrongful communication of information, along with other offences of wrongful communication of information under Section 5(1) of the OSA.

Those convicted of wrongful communication of information under the OSA can be fined up to $2,000 and jailed for up to two years.

The police advise unauthorised recipients to delete and not further circulate any confidential information received.

Those convicted of unauthorised access to computer materials under Section 3(1) of the Computer Misuse Act can be fined up to $5,000 and jailed for up to two years.

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