Photo of Lee Hsien Loong from CNA

According to an independent news report by Taiwan-based media TheNewLens, various government agencies – A*Star, MinDEF, Ministry of Home Affairs, DSTA, Prime Minister’s Office, GovTech and government universities SMU and NTU – are involved with the harvesting of private data information through the use of Facebook application.

According to Facebook, over 65,009 Singapore-based Facebook accounts had their data misused by unknown agencies, which is likely the Singapore government. Several Singapore government researchers were singled out for links with the two Cambridge researchers – Dr David Stillwell and Dr Michal Kosinski of The Psychometrics Centre at Cambridge University – who “invented” the rogue Facebook app, myPersonality.

Since the report was published two days ago on April 24, several Singapore researchers have deleted their Linkedin profiles to cover up their relationship with the scandalised Cambridge researchers. The report also revealed money laundering links involving the former Chief Psychologist of Ministry of Defence, with a Singapore-registered company reported under the Panama Offshore Leaks Database.

Below is a summary of the report:

  • SCL Group, the parent company of Cambridge Analytica, had (and might still have) an office in Singapore.
  • Former directors of the Behavioral Dynamics Institute (BDI), the company founded by SCL Group CEO Nigel Oakes prior to establishing SCL and of which he remains chairman, provided consultancy and written speeches for the Singapore Ministry of Defense (MINDEF) and is registered as a “live” company in the city state.
  • Bernard Lim held his role as chief psychologist and head of MINDEF’s Applied Behavioural Sciences Department concurrently with a role at BDI.
  • Singaporean academics who worked for MINDEF and other Singapore government departments have access to Facebook user data via the myPersonality app developed by Dr David Stillwell and Dr Michal Kosinski of The Psychometrics Centre at Cambridge University, and the group co-authored and individually wrote several papers on using Facebook data to understand public perceptions and online expression.
  • Some of those involved have taken steps to delete evidence of these relationships.