01-Mar-2010 filed under Replies to Media
Why data on ICs is confidential: ICA
Straits Times Online
1 Mar 2010
WE REFER to Mr Philip J. Williams' Forum Online letter last Monday, 'Stumped by what's classified'.
Under the National Registration Act, a person is required to provide personal data when he registers for a national registration identity card (NRIC). The information provided and recorded in the national register is confidential and not for public sharing.
The Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) is prohibited by law from sharing information relating to NRIC holders, unless the sharing is deemed to be in the public interest or for purposes of criminal proceedings.
The information contained within the NRIC is protected to ensure a person is not able to obtain the personal information of another person. This is why Mr Williams was not able to obtain the information on his son's NRIC when he called the ICA. In fact, this would be the position even if he had presented himself in person at ICA premises.
We recognise Mr Williams' concern that information contained within the NRIC could be revealed when one presents his identity card to another person. The identity card is an important document used for identification purposes and also to enable the holder to perform transactions in public and private sectors in Singapore. The National Registration Regulations authorise certain officials, for instance, officers from the police and ICA, to retain a person's identity card for the purpose of investigations.
Security guards at buildings, condominiums and other premises are not authorised by the regulations to retain a visitor's NRIC. However, it is not illegal for them to do so if the visitor authorises them to hold his NRIC as a condition for entry in exchange for a visitor's pass. This is a private arrangement between the two parties concerned. But the law provides that any misuse of the confidential information by anyone acting without authorisation is actionable.
In his letter, Mr Williams shared that he could not locate his son's NRIC to verify the issue date. Losing an NRIC is a serious matter as the lost card may fall into the wrong hands and be used for illegal purposes.
Hence, the NRIC holder is required to report the loss of his NRIC and apply for a replacement card in person at the ICA Building within 14 days. In this way, the ICA can take action to invalidate the lost NRIC and anyone found using it will be liable.
We hope Mr Williams will advise his son to report the loss as soon as he establishes that he cannot locate the NRIC.
Brenda Tham (Ms)
Senior Public & Internal Communications Executive
Public & Internal Communications Branch
Corporate Communications Division
Immigration & Checkpoints Authority
Stumped by what's classified
22 Feb 2010
I READ with interest Mr Kwan Jin Yao's letter last Thursday, 'Let students from JCs, polys, ITE interact to aid understanding', and agree national service (NS) is a life-changing requirement for today's youth. Unfortunately, the registration process leaves me bewildered as to the definition of 'classified' information and the potential ramifications for citizens.
I was advised to register my eldest son before Wednesday, a relatively simple process of accessing the NS portal and inputting the required information. I had to input my son's IC number and its date of issue, but I could not locate my son's IC to verify the issue date, so I could not continue.
I called the IC registration department of the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) to ask for the date of issue but was told this was 'classified information' and could not be revealed to anyone, even my son the IC holder. I offered to go there in person, to no avail.
I was further advised to apply for a new IC, but this was not an option as the collection date would be beyond the stipulated date of response to the Ministry of Defence.
An ICA officer suggested I call Mindef and explain my predicament. This I did and spoke to a helpful individual who promptly passed on details to a senior officer and called me back within 10 minutes to say Mindef was trying to resolve the situation. A few hours later, it did so, sending me a special password with which I was able to log on to the NS portal and register my son.
More important, the implications of my simple request for what is considered 'classified' information could be far-reaching, affecting every citizen, as under current law, communicating any classified information 'unintentionally, recklessly or in any other way' is a crime punishable by a fine and prison sentence. This appears to apply to both the IC holder and the recipient.
What we thought was innocuous information regarding an IC issue date, if revealed 'in any form', could be construed as a criminal offence. Bearing this in mind, whenever presenting my IC for inspection, for example to security staff, I shall ensure that my thumb obscures this information. I hope my blood group is declassified as my thumb is not long enough to ensure complete anonymity.
From this date, I will also carry with me disclaimer forms that I will insist are signed and notarised in triplicate should a copy of my IC be required, or retained, for example, in exchange for office lift passes, condominium access or bowling alley shoes.
Philip J. Williams