Photo of Yaacob Ibrahim from CNA

The Singapore government today (Feb 6) passed a new law allowing the dictatorship to access and even make copies of private user data including Facebook, Google, Linkedin and other social media profiles of individuals. Critical information infrastructures (CIIs) in 11 key sectors – Government, security and emergency, healthcare, telecommunications, banking and finance, energy, water, media, land transport, air transport and maritime – will have to hand over their sensitive database when required by the government’s commissioner or “any authorised officer” without a court warrant.

Social media companies like Facebook which have a local office in Singapore will need to register themselves with the government or face a maximum two years’ jail sentence and a S$50,000 fine.

Minister for Information and Communication Yaacob Ibrahim said that the new Cybersecurity Bill will “protect” Singaporeans against “cyberattacks” seen in other countries:

“The United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) had to cancel at least 6,900 appointments due to the WannaCry ransomware attack. In the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, the hacking of power grids led to power disruptions that affected more than  200,000 citizens during winter.”

When questioned by Opposition MP Pritam Singh if the ruling party government will abuse the data for political purposes and “not against government critics and individuals”, Minister Yaacob Ibrahim refused to give his assurance and said that Singaporeans should trust the government:

“Let me assure the House that the powers under the Bill are not intended to intrude into privacy. The measures and requirements are mainly technical, operational or procedural in nature.”

The new Cybersecurity Bill passed in less than a day as the ruling party PAP have a 92% majority in Parliament.