Minister of State for Communications and Information Janil Puthucheary said in Parliament on Monday that Government agencies sometimes have to disclose personal data in order to correct inaccuracies and provide an accurate picture of a complaint in order to maintain public trust and to serve Singaporeans effectively.
The naming and shaming culture was prevalent on social media online, so much so that the Government itself laid out laws to make naming and shaming of those alleged to have carried out acts that were not viewed well by online netiznes illegal. However, the Government now says that they are allowed to name and shame, as long as they can win back public trust on issues that reflect badly on the Government.
This comes after the incident last December when the Central Provident Fund (CPF) Board disclosed the personal information of a woman suffering from lupus who had publicly but anonymously voiced her ire with the agency in relation to her struggles with withdrawing her savings in order to pay for her medical expenses. According to Puthucheary, Government agencies sometimes need to disclose personal data in the public interest to counter inaccuracies about the Government’s processes or policies contained in publicised complaints or petitions, in particular when it is the complainant who has called public attention to the case. He further explained that not correcting these inaccuracies about Government process and policies could mislead people into making ill-informed decisions that could be detrimental to them.
And correcting these inaccuracies would involve naming the complainant, laying bare all her personal financial details, and even indicate that because her finances were so dire, the Government agency had to inform Singaporeans that the woman’s daughter receives financial aid to continue with her tertiary education.